The Relevance of Insurance Business Process Outsourcing

The Relevance of Insurance Business Process Outsourcing

The Relevance of Insurance Business Process Outsourcing

Insurance is one of the major industries in the world. Many people’s lives are touched by it in one way or another. The global insurance market is estimated at almost 5 trillion US dollars and growing at over 5% per annum.

In the US alone, net premiums written totaled $1.28 trillion in 2020, with premiums recorded by property/casualty (P/C) insurers accounting for 51 percent, and premiums by life/annuity insurers accounting for 49 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Property/ Casualty insurance consists primarily of auto, homeowners and commercial insurance. Net premiums written for the sector totaled $652.8 billion in 2020. The life/ annuity insurance sector consists of annuities, accident and health, and life insurance. Net premiums written for the sector totaled $624.0 billion in 2020.

In 2019 there were 5,965 insurance companies in the U.S., according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. 2.9 million people were employed by the insurance industry in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Of those, 1.7 million worked for insurance companies, including life and health insurers (962,500 workers), Property/ Casualty insurers (665,900 workers) and reinsurers (27,300 workers). The remaining 1.2 million people worked for insurance agencies, brokers and other insurance-related enterprises.

With its focus on data related services, oWorkers provides a suite of services to take operational pressure away from insurance companies and help them focus on their business. It helps that we are led by a management team that has over 20 years of hands-on BPO experience between them.

 

Challenges faced by insurance companies

Insurance companies face several challenges, some common to business and industries in a free market and some unique to their industry.

As a growing but mature industry, with established processes and systems and products, the margin for differentiating one from the next becomes smaller and smaller. This often leads to thinning margins for many operators either on account of their own investment for the future, or  because of a competitor’s innovation that takes some money away. Hence, there is a growing pressure on margins.  

With consumer awareness rising and customers becoming more demanding, regulation keeps getting stricter and compliance expectations more demanding.

Technology, that has been an enabler over the last few decades, and perhaps even driven growth, can also become a stumbling block. It needs to be refreshed and upgraded for the company to stay in step with times. This, again, requires investment and focus.

Then there is an increasingly fragile and volatile world that keeps throwing up once in a lifetime occurrences, more often than once in a lifetime. The cost for many of these gets borne by insurance companies in the form of claim payouts. Once again, it puts pressure on the bottomline.

As a business, it is expected that all happenings in the life of a business get funneled into the financial performance of the company, whether through additional cost, or lower revenue, or a combination of the two. This is where the pressures are becoming visible, on the bottom line. And this is what insurance companies are addressing through outsourcing.

Most of our clients, especially the ones from the US and Western Europe, report savings of almost 80% when they outsource to oWorkers. They also find our alternative pricing offers, giving them a choice between output-based and input-based price points, unique and helpful.

 

How does insurance business process outsourcing help

Stay focused on the big picture

A business has many moving parts. Each part has a different solution for the most effective handling. Getting each part to work in an optimum manner is a tedious task and responsibility. Many of these tasks are transactional in nature and keep on happening all the time. For a management to focus on these moving parts means lesser attention on the core business and its strategy.

Outsourcing enables an insurance company to stay focused on the core business and not miss the woods for the trees, by getting someone else to stay focused on the transactional parts.

Suitable manpower

Each business has its own requirement of educational qualifications and experience for the people who work there. It becomes difficult for a company to handle the requirements if the workforce becomes very diverse, as is likely to be the case for an insurance company.

Transactional processing requires skills of a different nature from strategy and management. Even sources of the talent are likely to be different. The company cannot hire transaction processing staff from the same business school they hire management staff from.

Outsourcing transactional work releases the company from these confines. An outsourcing partner is much better equipped to hire staff at a lower cost, which is what is required for transactional processing, and then train them for the job.

Specialization

A company that handles processing for multiple clients develops capability in the supported processes that the principal is not in a position to. This can also translate to investments in process and technology improvements since, for the partner, it is the primary business and not a support function. Consolidating volumes across clients gives them the heft to do so.

Cost reduction

Being a business enterprise, the advantage eventually shows up in the income statement. Savings could accrue out of:

  • Lower staff cost
  • Lower hiring cost
  • More efficient training processes
  • Optimized infrastructural cost

 

Insurance business process outsourcing services

Established BPO players like oWorkers provide a wide variety of solutions to meet different client needs. Insurance companies are likely to benefit from the following:

Customer Contact

The customer is the reason for the existence of any business. Without the ability to add value to a customer for which she is willing to pay a price, a business has no meaning. Hence, the ability to be there for customers when they need you is paramount.

Customers may want to reach you for a variety of reasons, and through different channels like phone, email, chat or social media. The business needs to set reasonable expectations and then ensure that they can deliver on them. The ability to respond coherently to customers when they reach out to you is important for an insurance business.

oWorkers relies on a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic team across its three delivery locations to support customers in 22 languages. Not only are all our delivery centers equipped to operate on a 24×7 schedule should there be a client need, we are also able to switch effortlessly between work from home and work from office, depending on the prevailing situation, thereby ensuring that customer issues do not go unresponded.

Claims Processing

It is one of those things where one takes an insurance policy for the purpose of securing yourself against an eventuality but hopes that it never comes to pass.

Claims processing, hence, is a sensitive and critical area of operations in an insurance business. Not only must it be handled expeditiously, it also needs to be handled with the utmost care. Not only must the processors be sensitive to the claimant’s situation, he is already in a bad one if he has raised a claim, it means that an unfortunate event has happened, they also need to ensure that the insurance companies interest is protected. Not only can claimants make errors in claims, but fraudulent claims are not unknown.

An outsourcing partner can take away the pressure of quick and accurate processing of these transactions from the insurance company, like oWorkers is able to, with its team of trained staff. Being a preferred employer in our delivery locations gives us access to the best BPO talent. After a rigorous pre-selection evaluation covering EQ and IQ, apart from communication skills, selected staff are put through a training program before they are permitted to handle customer transactions.

Revenue realization through insurance business process outsourcing

It is critical for a business to ensure that the revenue generating machinery keeps ticking. Without revenue, nothing can work. For an insurance company, revenue realization happens in the form of premia that the insured pay for the privilege. This is a transactional process that could run into thousands and millions of transactions every few days.

In addition, there are many related activities like accounting, processing of agency and agent commissions, handling delayed payments, etc. By outsourcing these transactional activities to a partner, an insurance company makes headroom for focusing on strategic activities for its business.

oWorkers has forged long-term partnerships with major technology companies. This enables us to deploy the most advanced technologies for processing of client transactions in an efficient manner, including those related to payments and collections.

Direct Sales

A related area where an insurance business process outsourcing partner can create value for the client is through direct sales, especially if they are also handling customer support activities. Being the one most often in contact with customers gives them a unique position to interact and make suggestions that could meet other requirements while pushing the business of the client.

oWorkers has opted for the employee model, as compared to the freelancer and contractor model adopted by some of its competitors. This gives oWorkers greater flexibility in deployment while creating a pool of motivated, long-term staff. It even creates a cadre of able supervisors coming up through the ranks, for better management. The motivation of staff is reflected in the scores of 4.65 or more that we routinely received from employees, both past and present, on platforms like Glassdoor. This gives us an edge in handling direct sales for insurance clients.

Actuarial Services

Actuarial science is the method of determining and evaluating the financial impact of events or risk. Usually mathematical models based on past data are used, adjusted for future events and their likelihood, to arrive at an assessment. In insurance, this process enables companies to determine the amount of cover to be offered as well as the premium to be charged for carrying the risk. They have to find the right balance between risk and reward. If the premium is too low, the insurance company will lose money if the event materialises. If too high, an insured may not find it worthwhile to insure.

Since the fundamental principles remain the same, even though actuaries are seen as a core function in an insurance company, with standardisation coming in over the many years the process has existed, there is increasing openness in adopting insurance business process outsourcing for actuarial services as well. Being complex processes, this could even translate to an insurance knowledge process outsourcing, of course within the larger BPO umbrella.

Operating out of super secure facilities with ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certification, oWorkers has been a trusted partner for processing sensitive information on behalf of clients. Being in the Eurozone also makes GDPR compliance a requirement, and not a nice-to-have.

Underwriting and Policy Servicing

Underwriting is a key part of the process through which the insurer determines the coverage that can be offered, along with the premium. Though actuarial tables are the starting point, underwriters also make an effort to take into account the unique situation of a customer to figure out if the coverage or premium needs to be different. In a way, they connect the dots between actuarial tables and the customer.

A partner can help here too. They can process endorsements and cancellations, carry out research to seek information that would help underwriters reach decisions and process renewals. An engaged partner can provide support in a lot of areas of underwriting.

With deep roots in host communities, oWorkers is uniquely positioned to access short-term resources like no other provider can. We can hire an additional 100 people with a 48-hour notice, for underwriting or any other requirement. This saves unnecessary cost for our clients who would otherwise need to keep idle resources on the payroll for handling unforeseen spikes on a few days of the year.

 

Support Services as a part of insurance business process outsourcing

What we have discussed so far are activities that are integral and unique to the insurance business, such as premium collection, actuarial services and claims processing.

What we should not lose sight of is that an insurance company, operating in a regulated environment, also has to operate many other functions and fulfil many other external requirements that might be common to all businesses. Some of these are:

  • Hiring people
  • Managing the payroll
  • Regulatory returns
  • Accounting and taxation
  • Billing and account receivables
  • Data entry for Machine Learning
  • Technology support
  • Social media moderation

The list is indicative, not exhaustive. It is meant to highlight the wide variety of support services needed by a company. While providing support for the core insurance activities of a client, an insurance business process outsourcing company can broaden the remit and support the client in many other ways, as highlighted above and deliver the benefits of cost reduction and efficiency in additional areas.

The Evolution of Business Process Outsourcing Solutions

The Evolution of Business Process Outsourcing Solutions

The Evolution of Business Process Outsourcing Solutions

There are some humorous stories that go around the BPO circles that talk about how vendors position their company to prospective clients. When they talk to an insurance client, they will try to communicate that they know more about insurance than the insurance company themselves, and can handle their work better than they can. When they talk to a prospective technology client looking to outsource work, the vendor’s presentation will seek to convey that they know more about technology than the client themselves and that they are the right partner for their work. If NASA was to go looking for an outsourcing partner, they would probably be told by most of the applicants that they have been launching rockets into space much before NASA and the Russians.

It seems to indicate that a BPO provider can do anything better than anyone else. They can run an insurance business better than an insurance company and a technology business better than a technology company. Why would anyone need insurance and technology companies, or companies in any other industry, for that matter? All we need is BPO companies, doing everything that needs to be done.

The stories may be apocryphal, but there does seem to be a grain of truth in them. At least to the extent of the work that BPO companies take on, they have made an effort to make sure that that work is handled in the best possible manner.

A wide variety of business process outsourcing solutions have emerged as a result of the hard work and efforts of providers and they are always in a state of evolution. Some of the most sought-after outsourcing activities today were not even a gleam in anyone’s eyes when providers started mushrooming in all parts of the world, riding on the back of the developments in telecommunications and powered by internet connectivity.

In order that we are on the same page, let us ensure we have a common understanding of ‘solutions.’

Leveraging the definition of ‘solutions’ used by many large corporations such as IBM, HP, CISCO and Rockwell Automation, Solutions Insights, a B2B consulting and training firm, consolidated the meaning as “A combination of products, services, and intellectual property focused on a specific business problem or opportunity that drives measurable business value and can be significantly standardized. The solutions components can be from either the vendor and one or more partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer itself, or a combination of the three.”

What are the solutions offered by players in the BPO space?

Every company operates in a unique space and makes an effort to manage the variables impacting on their business in order to achieve their goals. They try to create and innovate and provide a combination of solutions that enables them to move forward. While there are many similarities between many of the offerings of competitors, possibly no two are ever identical, else there would be no need for so many providers. They have their own uniqueness which is what makes it work for them. Besides, solutions also keep evolving with time and the state of development of mankind.

That being said, there are two main methods of classifying business process outsourcing solutions.

The first one classifies solutions based on the industry served

Thus, solutions that fulfil the needs of the Retail industry will be classified as Retail BPO solutions. Solutions that fulfil the needs of the Aerospace industry will be classified as Aerospace BPO solutions. Similarly, there will be BPO Banking solutions, BPO Healthcare solutions, BPO solutions for Manufacturing industry, BPO solutions for Insurance industry, and so on.

This method is straightforward and easy to understand. These are also known as Vertical solutions.

However, this does not provide an understanding of the type of work being done, which is where the value of BPO emanates from. Their ability to take up tasks, usually transactional in nature, and execute it to perfection with the help of technologies created for the purpose and human resources hired and trained for that specific activity.

Whether the provider is operating a Contact Center for the Insurance client, or handling the processing of insurance claims raised by customers, or providing staffing solutions to the same client, they will all be classified as Insurance BPO solutions.

While this method is suitable for outsourcing companies that wish to be associated with providing services to a specific industry, it has limitations in terms of what it communicates about the actual solution.

The second method classifies Business Process Outsourcing solutions in terms of the type of work done or the nature of activity or tasks being performed for clients

A solution that offers payroll management support to clients might be known as a payroll solution, or could be a part of a larger bucket and be simply known as an HRO (Human Resources Outsourcing) solution. This solution might be offered to clients from the Manufacturing sector or companies in the hospitality industry. Barring the peculiarities of each industry and company that needs to be catered to, the solution would broadly remain the same.

There are many other solutions that would constitute this methodology, such as Customer Contact solutions, Finance and Accounting solutions, Procurement solutions, and so on.

While straightforward in a way, one of the challenges is that the set of solutions can keep changing, evolving as clients and providers find new niches in which they can cooperate for improved business outcomes.

This is the system we will delve deeper into in an effort to understand some of the major solutions offered by providers. It needs to be borne in mind that this list will be more indicative than comprehensive, as solutions can keep morphing, as earlier discussed.

These are also known by the name of Horizontal solutions.

Whichever way the solution is classified, oWorkers is geared to provide best-in-class services, as they have been doing for over 8 years, to its clients across the globe. It has been recognized as one of the three best providers of data related services in the world.

Business Process Outsourcing Solutions – Horizontals

Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO)

Managing human resources is a huge responsibility as employees can make or break a company. Care needs to be exercised in ensuring people are dealt with in a professional, as well as sensitive manner. Equally, most jurisdictions have regulations regarding the treatment of employees, minimum wages, retiral deductions, and others, that need to be complied with or regulatory action risked. There could also be technologies available that facilitate the process that a provider uses but the client, perhaps on account of size, may not be.

Managing human resources is a job for specialists that many companies find themselves ill suited for, and hence look for a partner that is in a position to handle it on their behalf. While HRO is a comprehensive set of activities, each engagement between a client and partner could include a different set of activities. Recruitment process outsourcing and Payroll management, though a part of HRO, could be the subject of independent BPO contracts.

Not only does it provide HRO services to clients, oWorkers has done a commendable job with its own employees. As a preferred employer, it attracts a consistent flow of talent that enables it to hire the best, without incurring much cost in attracting that talent. This eventually flows back to the client as beneficial pricing.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

In business, something is bought and something is sold. At the most elementary level, goods and services bought and sold need to traverse the path from the seller to the buyer. In fact, even the production of goods requires raw material to traverse the path from its source or origin to the production facility where the goods, that will be sold later, are produced. And who knows, the buyer of the goods may, in turn, be using them as inputs for creating other products.

The flow of goods and services, covering the steps and processes that lead to transformation of products is covered by SCM. A key objective of SCM is to streamline the supply processes that releases efficiencies and gives the company a competitive advantage.

As business goes global, the complexity of supply chains increases manifold. SCM business process outsourcing solutions seek to manage inventories, production processes, distribution, sales and vendor supplies, in order to deliver faster and eliminate unnecessary costs.

oWorkers is well placed to cater to unexpected peaks in client business volumes that SCM processes can sometimes experience. By hiring almost a hundred resources extra in 48 hours, we deliver a huge cost saving to clients who would, otherwise, need to hire and retain idle resources.

Sourcing and Procurement

Though procurement is a key activity for business, especially for manufacturing industries, the attention, usually, is on the activities that contribute directly to the bottom line. Sourcing and procurement related activities get pushed back, leaving the sourcing team to fend for themselves as best as they can.

Procurement business process outsourcing solutions can step in and take over. From a non-priority status, they will get elevated to the primary business status with the provider. They add value to the client’s business by bringing in the weight of their networks, developed through their specialization, to bear on the arrangement, through which the client can often get better pricing and terms. The vendor is also well positioned to negotiate better terms as they have the strength of volumes from multiple clients.

While Invoice management has been an accepted Procurement BPO activity, many others like supplier selection and contract negotiation are becoming more and more accepted.

Apart from being GDPR compliant, oWorkers offers the comfort of operating from super secure, ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified facilities.

Finance & Accounting

The Finance & Accounting functions are playing an increasingly important role in guiding the destiny of the business, instead of being mere collectors and presenters of financial information earlier. They are in a much better position to create value, even more so with the acceptance of F&A as a process that can be outsourced, covering areas like Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Risk and Compliance, Order to Invoice and Strategic Finance.

Apart from operational efficiency, outsourcing introduces measurable goals that make the function more predictable, reduces DSO (days’ sales outstanding), enables sharper management of cash and liquidity, while introducing a risk and compliance perspective.

oWorkers provides a unique pricing model by offering a choice between input and output based pricing to clients. Clients, especially those based in the US and Western Europe, routinely advise savings of almost 80% in terms of cost.

Data entry

The path to complete digitization passes through conversion of legacy data that is held on non-digital media. That has been one of the drivers of data entry across industries and functions. Whether it is civil records, or court judgments, or customer orders, at some point they need to be converted to a digital format to facilitate all future processing.

Apart from legacy data, companies continue to generate data that needs to be converted to a ‘workable’ format through the data entry process. Audio files, for example, in their original audio format cannot be used by computers. They are converted to text for further processing or even searching. Though automation has come in, for example in the form of NLP (natural language processing) technologies, the accuracy remains suspect, leading to manual data entry or correction intervention.

oWorkers has been supporting clients with simple data entry and enrichment processes for over 8 years. We consistently deliver accuracy rates in excess of 99%, measures across varying client scales as well as complexity of projects.

AI enablement services

The rapid strides AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies are making is on the back of dedicated enabling support from providers of business process outsourcing solutions.

Huge volumes of data need to be created for training AI models before they can be introduced. Much of this work is in the domain of data annotation which identifies elements in the data being uploaded, that is of relevance.

Whether bounding box annotation or LIDAR segmentation, keypoint or polygon annotation, there are a number of different techniques that are used for data that needs to be annotated, whether text or image or audio or video, that makes the AI model usable, oWorkers has supported many clients in data annotation projects from a wide variety of industries like Autonomous Vehicles, Medical AI, Satellite & Aerial imagery, Sports, Retail, Augmented Reality, Insurance, CCTV & Security, Robotics and Agriculture. 

Content moderation

This is a direct result of the openness and freedom that has been unleashed by the combination of the internet and social media platforms. Since unfettered sharing has been seen to be inimical to the interest of society in general and participating communities in particular, the need to moderate content has arisen and is driving a lot of work to capable BPO outfits like oWorkers.

Not only is content moderation a need of platforms themselves, but also of companies that leverage spaces offered by these platforms for their commercial use. These companies that create communities in order to generate conversations for promoting their brands and products also need to moderate these conversations, for very similar reasons.  

From image conformity to comments moderation, from profiles check to videos upload moderation, oWorkers has a solution both with technological AI tools as well as dedicated human resources working 24/7 in 20+ languages.

Business Process Outsourcing Examples and Types of BPO

Business Process Outsourcing Examples and Types of BPO

Business Process Outsourcing Examples and Types of BPO

Have you ever ordered food from your favorite restaurant through a food delivery service?

Or contracted a packing and moving service to help you move your household stuff while moving from one place to another?

Or sent your children to school to learn?

Are these business process outsourcing examples?

They are not. These are examples of personal services that you are outsourcing.

You could have cooked the food if you wanted. Or, you could have ordered from your favorite restaurant but gone to pick it up yourself.

You could also have loaded your car, or hired a truck and loaded it with your household stuff and moved it yourself.

You could also have kept your children at home and either home-schooled them or let them learn through observation and experience.

But you chose not to, for various reasons; convenience, cost, quality, etc.

Interdependence is a feature of human existence. We don’t do everything ourselves. We depend on each other for our needs. Early humans may have used the barter system to make exchanges fair, while the modern human uses money, in the form of different currency units, to exchange goods and services for a fair value.

The same is true for businesses. This interdependence manifests itself in the many business process outsourcing examples that we come across.

Sticking to the knitting, oWorkers has carved out a niche for itself in data related services and is now counted as one of the top three providers in the world.

The industry can be sliced in many different ways, using different parameters. In order to understand the industry better, it might be useful to take a look at the various ways in which BPO players can be classified.

 

Based on industry they work for

Each industry is different from other industries. Banking is different from insurance. Telecommunications is different from shipping. Building and construction is different from pharmaceuticals, and so on.

While this is also true for companies in an industry, the difference, which they seek to leverage to stand out from the crowd and achieve their goals, there are also many similarities amongst companies in each industry.

Whether by accident or deliberate effort, BPO providers tend to focus on some industries more than others, and come to be known as experts.

The business process outsourcing examples that emanate from this classification are perhaps quite straightforward.

If the work being done is for a Pharmaceutical company, we could call it a Pharma BPO.

If the work being done is for a company that offers Insurance products, we could call it an Insurance BPO.

If a provider runs a Contact Center for a logistics company, handles the Human Resources outsourcing activities for another logistics company, and does community moderation for a social media page of yet another company in the industry, it can get classified as an expert in the logistics industry.

There could be as many types of BPO as industries using services of BPOs. This type of classification can also be called classification based on verticals.

oWorkers supports clients across multiple industries from around the world. In keeping with industry growth trends, several of them are technology companies, including several unicorn marketplaces.

 

Based on borders

Outsourcing of business processes was a gradual process, starting with processing centers not far away that could be touched and felt, to the anywhere in the world model now prevalent, driven by the rapid advances in telecommunications technology and powered by the internet access explosion.

While in the western world, which saw the early growth owing to expansion of consumer franchises, the initial outsourcing would have been local or domestic, within the national borders, in case of some of the BPO powerhouses today, like India and Philippines, the initial growth would have come from the expansion of outsourcing activities of western corporations to other delivery centers beyond their own shores.

Conversely, geographies like India and the Philippines, later expanded to provide support to domestic business corporations, in step with the later explosion of consumer franchises.

Thus, BPOs can be classified on the basis of country of delivery with respect to the country of origin of work.

If the work being done is in a country that is different from where the work originates, we could call it an international BPO. An international BPO can also be called export BPO as the revenues from the business arise overseas and are remitted to the country of the provider for work done. These qualify as export revenues. Many developing nations provide incentives to companies that earn export revenues as it supports the balance of payments of the nation.

If the work being done is in the same country that the work originates in, we could call it a domestic BPO.

With our three global delivery centers in three distinct geographies, oWorkers provides onshore as well as offshore support to global clients. Our multicultural, multi-ethnic workforce delivers support in over 22 languages.

 

Based on distance (or shore) of delivery from source of work

This is perhaps an extension of the earlier classification.

An international BPO is also often called an offshore BPO to signify that origination of the work is from outside the “shores” of the country.

A domestic BPO is also often called an onshore BPO to signify that origination of the work is from within the shores (boundaries) of the country where it is being serviced from.

  • If the work is being done in another country, but in a location that is close by, we could call it a nearshore BPO.
  • If the work is being done in another country, in a distant location, we could call it a farshore BPO.
  • If the work is being done in the same country, we could call it a sameshore BPO.

A delivery unit located in San Antonio in Texas for a business located in New York is a greater distance than a delivery unit based in Krakow, Poland, for a business located in Frankfurt, Germany. However, as it is in the same country, we would call it “sameshore” whereas Krakow, in relation to Frankfurt, would be called nearshore.

Similarity or closeness of the time zone in which the delivery location operates, in relation to the source location, is also considered while using these terms which could, often, be imprecise.

South Africa, quite a long way off in terms of distance but very close in terms of time zone, is often a location for BPO delivery for UK businesses. Would we call it farshore or nearshore?

While time zones facilitate turnaround time in some cases, all centers of oWorkers are equipped to operate on a 24×7 basis, should clients require it. This speeds up delivery on transactions.

 

Based on ownership of the delivery unit

As we perhaps know, companies tended to perform all processing activities necessary to take their product or service to market and keep it there.

When process outsourcing first started, the work was outsourced to another unit within the company that operated at an arm’s length from the business unit, mostly for the purpose of saving cost.

It is only gradually that people started seeing opportunity in running a company based on handling outsourced business processes. Of course, we now know that there are many business process outsourcing examples of this happening.

This gives us another method of classifying the industry, in terms of ownership.

If the work is being done by a vendor based on a contract, We could call it a third-party BPO. For example, if Concentrix handles mortgage servicing calls in Cebu, Philippines, from customers of Citibank in North America, it is an example of a third-party BPO.

If the work is being done by a unit or arm or branch of the company, we could call it a captive BPO. Of late, the term Global Inhouse Centre (GIC for short) has become common for what has historically been known as a captive operation. If North American customers of J P Morgan Chase are directed to a call center in Manila, Philippines, it is an example of a captive BPO.

Operating out of GDPR compliant, super secure facilities, with ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certification, oWorkers takes data security related concerns out of the equation while offering third-party BPO services to its clients. Our alliance with major technology providers also ensures that clients have access to the latest technology for their work.

 

Based on channel of service

When process outsourcing work began to cross national boundaries in search of rates, manpower and efficiencies, the focus was on outsourcing work that was substantial, so that the effort in migration and ongoing supervision could be limited, and it could yield efficiencies of scale.

This is why call center services were among the most popular for outsourcing, as they often involved large numbers of people handling calls, usually inbound, such as technical support or customer servicing. So much so that BPO came to be associated with call centers.

However, call centers only represent a part of what BPOs do. In fact, they are just one channel through which they can serve their clients and their customers. They are the Voice channel.

The Voice channel can be further divided into Inbound and Outbound Voice. Inbound handles incoming calls, with the most common types being Customer Service and Technical Support. Outbound Voice calls out to customers, an example being Collections, where you call customers to expedite recovery of loan payments.

Other popular channels for BPOs to serve customers of the outsourcing client are Email and Chat.

While BPOs could be classified as Voice BPOs, Email BPOs and Chat BPOs. Over the last few years, with unified contact solutions gaining ground, it is now likely that these various types of BPOs are all consolidated under one logical roof.

In terms of channels, if we step beyond customer facing services, the other large bucket is that of data related services which is where almost all the other BPI services would be categorized.

Many business process outsourcing examples emanate from this classification, like Genpact handling global payroll processing for Unilever, or E.Merck directing customer emails to a centralized processing center in Mexico.

The positioning of oWorkers in local communities enables us to attract the best talent, regardless of the type of work. We routinely get ratings of 4.65 or more from employees, both past and present, on platforms like Glassdoor.

 

Based on nature of work

BPO comprises a wide basket of services. And it is evolving all the time. Many of the services that constitute the major services outsourced by companies today, like community moderation services or image labeling, were not even faraway dreams or a vision for either outsourcers or BPO providers. The BPO industry has kept reinventing itself to stay relevant to clients.

One of the reasons BPO caught the fancy of organizations is that it became possible to get quality and efficiency in certain types of work. Companies that offered these services, built expertise in the particular area of work and created value for the outsourcer.

A company, in any line of business, has to carry out a number of activities that enable the business to run efficiently and comply with laws of the land. At the top level, some of these activities are:

  • Maintaining books of accounts
  • People Management
  • IT and IT security
  • Maintenance of physical infrastructure
  • Procurement related functions
  • Legal services

and perhaps many others.

These are all business process outsourcing examples and some of these could be further subdivided into more specific processes. People Management, for instance, entails recruitment, payroll processing, training and people training and development.

The company either develops expertise in all these areas, or hires expensive experts, or engages a BPO partner. Many companies now choose to engage BPO partners for several of these activities.

If the work is customer servicing, like answering billing queries for a telco, we could call it a Customer Service BPO.

If the work being done is payroll processing, we could call it a HRO (Human Resources Outsourcing) BPO, or just HRO.

If the work being done is Legal services support, ee could call it an LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) BPO, or just LPO.

It is important to highlight that these lists are not exhaustive. This is to give you an understanding of a way of classifying BPOs. In addition to the services described here, there could be many other services that are outsourced, like:

  • Medical transcription
  • Reputation management
  • Advertising copywriting
  • E-publishing
  • Research

and many other services.

oWorkers is led by a management team with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry. They lead from the front and guide the teams working on projects, especially on unfamiliar terrain.

 

Based on the development index

As we know, BPOs have been able to deliver jobs to many underserved communities. This is why many governments encourage BPOs to set up shop in areas that are lower on the development index so that it creates job opportunities in the area.

BPOs can be classified on the basis of demographics of delivery location and it could be classified as a Rural BPO as opposed to one that would normally operate from an urban area.

Wherever it operates from, oWorkers follows strong screening processes that focus on the educational background of applicants while assessing their language, experience, IQ and EQ.

Our pricing model is unique. We offer a choice between out-based and input-based pricing models, with the choice resting with the client. Our business process outsourcing examples include many clients, especially from the US and Western Europe, who advise savings of almost 80% after engaging oWorkers in their business processes.

Process Optimization: Get More From Your Processes With These 6 Methods

Process Optimization: Get More From Your Processes With These 6 Methods

Process Optimization: Get More From Your Processes With These 6 Methods

It might be a reasonable assumption to make that humans are seized of the need to make efforts to improve their lot. And that it is an ongoing exercise. While you may choose to not pursue the same actively from a certain point onwards, perhaps you will never reach a point where you could say that it cannot be done any better.

We are referring to individual, isolated processes here, and not life as a whole. The reason is that there are many adherents to Newton’s third law of motion, which is “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” who argue that taken together, life is a zero-sum game. Even if you gain in one place you will lose in another.

Whether a believer in this law or not, what is not up for debate is that an individual process or a set of processes could be improved. This is the motivation behind human effort. If one were to take the view that by improving something you will cause a deterioration in something else, all human endeavor will come to a standstill.

The same is applicable in its entirety to organizations, since they are managed and guided by human beings and their philosophies.

Organizations are constantly trying to optimize their processes so that they can deliver on their eventual goal of maximizing returns to owners or shareholders through the means of offering products and services in their defined niche. And there is no finish line. It always wants more.  

A solo entrepreneur may want to increase his profits from $50K last year to $60K this year.

A global giant like Apple may be trying to enhance their net income from $57B (yes, that is 57 billion US dollars) to $67B in 2021.

Whoever you are, you will no doubt be working on several ideas that will enable you to do so. These ideas are an effort at getting more from the business and its process with the help of process optimization methods.

At the generic level, the effort is to try to increase revenues and control or reduce costs, both actions leading to an increase in profits or net income. As it is not always possible to translate any improvement into its bottomline impact, especially in larger organizations, many other variables are targeted that become quasi or representative variables of the end goal.

What could some of these look like?

  • Improving customer satisfaction index
  • Reducing the headcount for the process
  • Increasing the output from the process
  • Releasing output to the customer faster
  • Lower level of people attrition

Whatever be the area that is chosen for improvement, there are certain essential principles that might be common to all initiatives, that will be described in the ensuing paragraphs.

 

Measurement is the backbone of all process optimization methods

Shooting in the dark is not reported to be a particularly beneficial activity. Of course, one could get a lucky hit occasionally but are likely to draw a blank on most occasions. Besides, the occasional lucky shot does not enable us to separate the grain from the chaff. A bad shooter could get a lucky hit just as much as a crack shot.

When you are working in an organization and using its resources to achieve the goals you have been assigned, you have a responsibility to make the best use of them. Whether resources have been used gainfully or otherwise can only be known if there is a measurement around it. Even the setting up a company, its business model, are based on ‘cases.’ The ‘case’ establishes the gain (or loss) to the company on account of proceeding with the suggested course.

You can ask the organization to provide resources if you have a case based on which you return to the organization more than what you have used. Ideally the measurement is in objective and numeric terms, often financial. On occasion, and this may need to be decided by the highest authorities, the case could also be based on less objective measures like ‘flying business class instead of economy as it will give me three uninterrupted hours with the client which could lead to…”

Unless you know the present level of the process that you are trying to improve, you will never know if, as a result of your process optimization methods, there has been an improvement or not.

Of course, a solo entrepreneur might be tempted to take initiatives without establishing the baseline to measure against. While not recommended, we must not forget that he is measured on the most critical parameter of all, the profitability of the company, for which she alone is responsible. Hence, in a way, there is a measurement system in place.

Management guru Peter Drucker is credited with the phrase, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

oWorkers has consistently delivered over 99% accuracy level, across a variety of client projects using many different measurement systems. This has been possible to establish only as the result of a rigorous process for measurement of performance in each area of work.

 

Process redesign and reengineering

The systems and processes that got the business up to this point, may not be able to take it from this point onwards. Central Asian tribes were conquering large territories with their sturdy horses and swords around the end of the first millennia, but by the third quarter of the second millennia they were ceding ground to Europeans with their technologically advanced weaponry that now included gunpowder. Eating out was known to be a slow process. You get to a diner, select what you want, place the order, fiddle with your napkins or make idle conversation for the next twenty minutes and then the food got served. Fast food restaurants turned the idea on its head by keeping food that was ready, a limited choice of menu options, and delivery of food as soon as you order. With dramatic results.

Success is not guaranteed to anyone. The biggest corporations fall by the wayside if they fail to keep pace with changing times and requirements. One has to be aware of the goings-on in the world around us as well as conscious of the linkages our internal processes have with the outside world. There are many variables that keep changing.

When only a few cheques were drawn, it might have made sense to send them directly to the drawee bank for payment. But when volumes grew, it made sense to change the process and introduce a clearing house through which all cheques could be settled.

Most process optimization methods would include an element of business process redesign or reengineering. Not for the sake of doing it, but because there is a better model in the new world, knowing fully well that it might need to be tweaked all over again in a few years.

oWorkers is GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. While it has established processes it constantly looks for opportunities of process redesign and process reengineering in a controlled manner, ensuring that the resultant process is better than the one used earlier. Our three geographical locations, delivering services in over 22 languages, are guided by a continuous improvement team that is housed under our Quality team.

 

Process optimization methods love automation

Human beings are no doubt the smartest beings on this planet, with the ability to capture the most insignificant, subliminal nuance in a situation, but they have limitations. They cannot, for example, take in huge amounts of data simultaneously. A human judge on the finish line of a sprint may be able to pick out the winner, but not the second and third place runners at the same time. Humans find it difficult to keep personal bias and prejudice out of their decisions, making their objectivity suspect. We might believe that people who look different from us are more prone to crime than people who look like us. Human beings have moods. They have good days and bad days. They can make mistakes. Above all, they need constant maintenance, pampering as well as money.

If a machine or software program could do the work instead of humans, many of the issues highlighted above could be solved. Once taught, machines will continue to do the same thing again and again. They do not need pampering. Power it on and it is ready to go. And, perhaps most significantly for a business, they may need an initial investment, but don’t need to be paid a monthly salary, don’t negotiate for better working conditions, don’t ask for raises and days off. Hence, automation has been the dream solution for businesses.

The automation efforts driven by software have now progressed to the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business processes. Machines have been created to understand formatted language, known as software code, for many decades. Now machines are being taught how to interpret and understand and act on unformatted cues. Like an image. Or a text conversation between two people. The next phase of automation seems likely to be driven by AI.

Two thirds of its clients being technology companies, with unicorn marketplaces being a part of the list, oWorkers needs to be at the cutting edge of technology. It has forged deep relationships with technology providers that allows it to use the latest technologies for the work it does for clients. We are supporting clients as they build and test AI models with a wide variety of applications.

 

Virtual Work

Ever since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant shift to virtual work. Of course, where it could be done, like software development, or designing. One still cannot put bricks in a building virtually, or deliver food virtually. But work where it was possible to operate virtually has been quick to adopt this method.

In the present context, a discussion on process optimization methods will be incomplete if virtual work options are not considered.

A sudden spurt of natural optimization has emerged from the enforced virtualization. A lot of people are saving both time and money on commuting between home and office. Staying at home means one can also cook and eat food at home, instead of relying on food outlets near the office, leading to a salutary impact on employee health. Companies can save money on expensive downtown real estate.

It goes without saying each of these benefits would have a flipside impact too. Food outlets in commercial areas would be losing business. Real estate owners would have seen an ebbing away of demand for their products. Each company needs to evaluate the situation from its own perspective and insulate itself against possible downside risks while taking advantage of the upside that each new situation presents.

oWorkers has been quick to adapt its technologies and processes to the needs of virtual work. We have ensured our client business stays unimpacted, to the extent influenced by our work, and we offer each employee the option of working from home or office, in all the three locations we operate from.

 

Control – nothing else should change

If you remember the whac-a-mole arcade game, you will probably remember that as soon as you whack one down, another one pops up. The process keeps repeating and you have to keep whacking them down.

The basic theory in process optimization methods, regardless of which specific one you use, is that once whacked, a mole should stay down and no other should pop up in its place.

Why is that?

The point being made is that the gains on delivering improvement in one aspect should not be lost by a matching slippage in another one. What you gain on the swings should not be frittered away on the roundabouts.

If tasked to enhance the output of a certain process, one can, without breaking a sweat, either hire more resources if the process is manual, or buy more equipment if it is system-driven. Easy, isn’t it? But anyone can do that. It does not need a genius to implement. What the company has gained on higher production it has lost on additional manpower cost or equipment cost. So, it can hardly be called an improvement.

What would be an improvement, though, is if the same thing can be done, production enhanced, without either hiring additional resources or buying more equipment. That is the kind of result that should come out of implementation of an improvement initiative.

If tasked to reduce cost, one could simply stop hiring people, assuming it is a largely manual process. However, that would eventually starve the business of resources, reducing output, impacting on revenue and finally the profit. Such reduction in cost is not what the business asked for. It wanted cost reduction while ensuring that the output and revenue do not fall, which will lead to greater profits as the cost would have reduced.

Hence, the control of ‘everything else remaining the same is essential, which is what oWorkers abides by. Its Quality team carefully establishes the parameters at the start enabling a comparison with the same parameters once the project has been implemented.

 

Process optimization methods include outsourcing

In the modern world, outsourcing has emerged as the savior of many a business process from being the lame duck that dragged its business to failure.

Specializing in a particular area of work, say finance, or assembling auto components, stitching garments, businesses often struggle to keep up with the demands of the many support processes that they need to do in order that their product or service is fully ready. They neither have the skills for some of these processes nor interest in doing them. Outsourcing spares them this agony and enables them to focus on their core business, while getting a better yield from the outsourced non-core process.

Outsourcing a process gets the attention of another set of hands and eyes, of the partner, enhancing the possibility of creating a winning, improved process.

With the scalable outsourcing solutions offered by oWorkers, companies have reported savings of upto 80% over their pre outsourcing costs, without any compromise on quality. As a pure-play data BPO player, oWorkers has been identified as one of the top three data services providers in the world.

We provide a stable operating environment with the help of employed staff, not freelancers, led by a team with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry.

Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing – A Guide

Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing – A Guide

Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing – A Guide

Where in the world?

This might well be the question asked by an outsourcer today, wherever he is, while trying to identify a suitable location for outsourcing his business processes to.

Thanks to advances in telecommunications technology, he has the whole world available to him for his business.

This is important not just for the outsourcer, but the provider too, who needs to be constantly on the lookout for locations that will help him gain a competitive advantage.

But it was not always like this.

Around the middle of the last century, as consumer franchises started to grow, and major contribution to revenue coming from major urban centers, the need for relocating processing activities that were not customer-facing, away from expensive downtown real estate, started being felt.

This is where the first stage of outsourcing, as we know it today, perhaps started, when this business looked at options which were not far in physical terms, but where processing could be done in a much more inexpensive manner, and perhaps more efficiently. At this stage, if the business was operating from New York, it moved its large-scale processing activities from expensive New York to a lower cost option in the state of New Jersey.

As volumes kept rising, communication technology improving and air travel becoming frequent, the time and distance between locations kept reducing. At this stage, having had experience of outsourced processing, and having become comfortable enough with it, businesses started to move processing activities much further into the hinterland, even though most documents would still need to be moved manually. At this stage the processing might be moved inland to Des Moines in Iowa or Sioux Falls in South Dakota.

Competition and margin pressure kept rising. Communications technology kept improving. Increasing volumes, comfort with outsourcing and pressures of core business brought professional outsourcing outfits into the picture. Large outsourcers started outsourcing what they considered non-core functions to professional Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Competition and margin pressure kept rising. Communications technology kept improving. It became possible to move data and voice communication lines, at a commercially viable price, to anywhere in the world. Eager to take advantage of labor cost arbitrage, which would more than make up for higher telecommunications cost, large-volume work, like Contact Centers, started being taken offshore, to locations like India and the Philippines.

The footprint has continued to grow to cover many more geographies around the world as modern communications technology has expanded rapidly, bringing hitherto lesser known Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing onto the map.

The mix of processes outsourced has also continued to evolve. Functions earlier considered core and kept inhouse have been outsourced. Modern technologies have given rise to new processes requiring outsourcing, like data entry for Ecommerce businesses and data annotation for Artificial Intelligence (AI) models.

 

Madagascar – a new hub of Business Process Outsourcing

The fourth largest island in the world, larger than France in area, situated more than 200 miles off the Eastern coast of Africa, is in the fray for Business Process Outsourcing and is competing with and winning business away from Tunisia and Morocco as a new hub of francophone BPO activities.

The current population of Madagascar is estimated at 28 million and forecast to double to 54 million by 2050. Approximately 42.5 percent of the population is younger than 15 years of age, while 54.5 percent are between the ages of 15 and 64. Those aged 65 and older form 3 percent of the total population. A large percentage of the population is in the working age, and poised to grow further, making it easier to hire and retain resources. With the move to fiber optic cabling a few years back, Madagascar boasts one of the best internet speeds in the continent. It also has the advantage of being not more than 3 hours away from any time zone in Europe.

 

Criteria for choosing a BPO location

Choosing a place for locating a business or service is a normal business decision. As an outsourcer, you need to ensure that the outsourcing decision adds value to the business, like any other decision you take for the business.

With BPO being a global business, while it provides you with plenty of choices, it also makes the decision more complex. What are the factors that might be relevant when you choose a location which will become the primary delivery point for a process that is a part of your business?

Political Environment

The political environment sets the tone for the rest of the nation to take cues from and chart their respective courses. Business requires investment which thrives on predictability in the economic environment which, in turn, depends on the political climate. It is difficult for a business to make an investment decision based on a certain set of regulations if it has experienced that the rules keep changing on the whim of the person or persons in power. What seemed like a good business decision yesterday has become a bad one as a result of the last such change and the same could happen again.

With a chequered political climate ever since attainment of independence, as with many newly independent states, Madagascar has its share of challenges in governance, with international agencies alternately pledging and withdrawing support depending on the state of affairs. Over the last few years, the importance of stability and continuity in decision-making does seem to be dawning on the people in charge, leading to opening up of opportunities for private businesses like oWorkers to start its Madagascar BPO operations.

Human resource availability

This probably is the most important variable, as much of BPO work is people dependent. One should ascertain the availability of suitable manpower that can be employed for the different kinds of services on offer. Some of this assessment may need to be done with the use of surrogate variables as there may not be any direct indicators that provide this information like the number of colleges which offer course which match requirement of the business, like Accounting if the need is for F&A, number of fresh graduates passing out every year, migration trends from location; how many people choose to relocate for want of employment prospects, other employers hiring a similar profile; this could work both ways – while others hiring similar profile indicates availability of a pool, it also means that there is greater competition for that resource.

With a young population of 28 million that is forecast to double to 54 million by 2050 which consists of approximately 42.5 percent younger than 15 years, while 54.5 percent are between the ages of 15 and 64, there is a large, growing talent pool available to Madagascar BPO providers. Flexible labor laws allow oWorkers the flexibility to offer quick ramps, up and down.

Resource Cost

Related to resource availability is the issue of cost at which resources become available to Madagascar BPO providers. In addition, one needs to also factor in the cost to acquire and retain that resource. In other words, is a lot of effort required to attract the right talent? Effort will translate to cost, and the greater the effort the greater the cost. What about attrition? Is it high? Each time someone leaves the hiring machinery needs to be cranked up all over again, which is a cost.

oWorkers taps into the Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing talent pool that is available for $130 per month. This is less than half the starting salary in competing locations like Tunisia and Morocco, while being thrice the minimum wage stipulation in Madagascar. Attrition remains low, reducing pressure on hiring and training.

Telecommunications Network

Telecommunications is the lubricant that has oiled the wheels of the BPO industry and allowed it to expand to the far corners of the world. Even though it is almost a given in today’s context, from a business perspective we still need to tick the boxes and satisfy ourselves that the available infrastructure will meet business needs.

According to thehustle.co “With the fastest internet in Africa, Madagascar has grown to be a major player in the BPO sector for French-speaking markets” and “Madagascar has the fastest internet in Africa — even faster than some first world countries such as the UK, France, and Canada.” Plugging into this fiber optic cable network, with quadruple redundancy in the form of Fiber, 4G, ADSL and satellite, allows oWorkers to offer efficient transaction processing to its clients out of its Madagascar BPO centers.

Time Zone

The world is generally visualized as being spread out in an East-West direction, with time changing as you go more East or West from a certain point. But we know the world is round. One could also travel vertically in a North-South direction from a starting point. Whatever distance we travel we will be in the same time zone. Being in a different time zone could have benefits as well as limitations. Being in a time zone with a large difference from the client might enable speedier, overnight processing. On the flip side, requiring staff to work off hours in the BPO center might increase costs.

oWorkers in Madagascar is on East Africa Time which is UTC + 3 and shared with Eastern Europe Summer, Israel Daylight and Moscow time. This helps us in providing regular daytime shifts to most employees who work on projects for European clients.

Physical infrastructure – Electricity

Infrastructure required for running a business can be of various kinds, like power, water, food, cooling (or heating) as the case may be. We will focus on power, which is the most time-critical resource for a business to run. The others being requirements that can perhaps be borne even if missing for short periods of time.

Power supply is required for running any sort of equipment, whether it is a PC, or a fan, or lighting, even most of the telecommunications equipment. Adequacy and continuity of power grid power needs to be ascertained. Many BPOs tend to be set up in developing economies where some of the infrastructure, like power, is less than robust. In such cases, it needs to be ensured that backup arrangements, like power generating units, are available so that the shortfall can be met.

oWorkers believes in redundancy in physical infrastructure in its Madagascar BPO, so that client delivery is not hampered. With 2 Electric generators on the standby, we have adequate supply of power to meet all our needs.

Multilingual capability

Language is the medium through which human beings communicate. While the technical part of communication is handled through telecommunications networks, human interaction can only happen through language. Not only the language in which the outsourcer and provider can communicate, but in each language in which the outsourcing business needs to interact with customers and other stakeholders in the outside world.

Perhaps on account of being a French colony till 1958, proficiency in French is high, making it an ideal location for serving the francophone market for Madagascar BPO vendors. oWorkers leverages its centers in Madagascar for the services it offers to clients in French apart from other languages that derive from Latin.

Civic Services – Local Transport

While telecommunications connects the world making it possible to transfer information and knowledge between locations, a system of civic services, like transport, like law and order, is required for not only the business to operate but also employees to commute to and from work when working out of a physical facility.

The urban Antananarivo, the largest city in Madagascar, provides multiple public transportation options which locals use quite comfortably, though visitors might find them uncomfortable and confusing. Staff of oWorkers relies on this system to travel from home to either of the two Madagascar Business Process Outsourcing centers, both located in Antananarivo.

Economics

Finally, the economics of the decision need to make sense.

It helps if there are incentives available from the authorities, as BPOs have the potential of creating jobs in a sluggish market.

Competition also has an impact on both sides. The existence of competition means available resources will be in greater demand and could become more expensive as a result. On the positive side, the existence of competition means that you are perhaps in the right place for a BPO.

Also, just like the political environment, the economic environment needs to be governed by policies that are stable and transparent for private businesses to get confidence to invest.   

A business does not exist in isolation. It exists in an ecosystem where there are many other players. We need to ensure that the ecosystem we seek to place the business in, is one that will provide a supportive environment.

oWorkers Madagascar BPO is in a position to offer most services at a rate lower than many established locations like India for similar services without sacrificing quality, with the availability of a large pool of experienced data entry operators, moderators, moderation experts and accountants and many others.

 

In Conclusion

With its temperate climate despite being located in the tropics, Antananarivo, the capital city, largest urban center and where both the centers of oWorkers are located, offers a pleasant year-round climate, apart from the business benefits we have discussed earlier.

Many of our clients are already working with us from our centers in Madagascar.

As a Madagascar BPO services company, with a management team that has a cumulative experience of over 20 years, with oWorkers you engage a provider that will enable you to get the benefit of working from a center located in a developing economy while managing the downside risks for you.

BPO Services Company: How to Choose One

BPO Services Company: How to Choose One

BPO Services Company: How to Choose One

 

BPO Services: An Overview

B

Business

P

Process

O

Outsourcing

We perhaps intuitively understand the meaning of the three words that constitute the term Business Process Outsourcing, but do we have a common understanding of the phrase formed by bringing the three words together?

There is perhaps no ‘official’ definition of BPO though descriptions can be found on websites like Investopedia, Wikipedia and Quora. These are some common ways of expressing what a BPO is:

  • BPO is a practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally

  • BPO is subcontracting work to another company

  • BPO is a subset of outsourcing that involves the contracting of the operations and responsibilities of specific business functions (or processes) to a third-party service provider

  • BPO is the contracting of a specific business task, such as payroll, to a third-party service provider

And here are some common examples of BPO services:

  • A vendor company handling incoming customer service calls for a telecom company

  • Data entry for products offered on an ecommerce site

  • Payroll processing and employee benefits administration being handled for a large corporate by a company specialising in this service

Another term that is being used somewhat interchangeably with BPO, is BPM, which stands for Business Process Management, perhaps driven by a need to encompass Global Inhouse Centers, the owned processing centers of businesses, within the fold. Of course, it could be argued that where a process has been carved out and is being run as a separate unit, albeit under the same company, it is still a version of outsourcing.

 

How does a BPO Service Company add value?

A company that manufactures aircraft engines makes all the thousands of its parts on its own. True or False.

All of us who have children educate them ourselves at home. True or False.

The answer in both cases is: False.

We live in an interconnected and interdependent world. Trying to add value to the best of our capability. To ourselves. To our employers. To our businesses. Entering into arrangements and deals and contracts through which we can make the world a better place. Doing some parts ourselves and purchasing other parts from people and businesses that can perform them better.

An aircraft engine manufacturer outsources various parts to many other companies that are equipped to make them more efficiently, or with greater precision or at a lower cost.

Most of us send our children to school because they have the knowledge and experience to provide our children with a better understanding of the world.

How is Business Process Outsourcing any different?

It is not. A BPO company adds value by taking on processing activities which can be better performed by them. This could be for a variety of reasons like bulk volume, better tools and technology or greater experience. But the bottomline is that BPO companies add value to your business by doing certain processes more efficiently and effectively than your business can.

Most of us operate in a free-market economy. Each business operates to maximise its profits and shareholder value, operating within the confines of a regulatory framework which is common to all.

There have been voices against business process outsourcing on flimsy grounds like ‘taking away jobs,’ Flimsy because people who object are happy buying reasonably priced athletic shoes made by outsourcing to a faraway country, or flying on an airline that bought its aircraft from another company which, in turn, purchased many of the parts from suppliers, but when their employer wishes to outsource some work that we do to a place where it can be done cheaply and efficiently, creating value for the business, we suddenly find that outsourcing is an unethical activity. It cannot work both ways.

Business Process Outsourcing, like any outsourcing, or any business activity, is not a given. It is a choice for which an assessment needs to be done for a decision to be taken. A business takes a decision, any decision, for improving its financial position. Outsourcing is no different. It is an opportunity to add value.

Evolution of BPO Services

A Business Process Outsourcing company was not always what it is today, running on a technology backbone over the Internet, with clients liberally sprayed all across the globe.

Let us take the hypothetical example of a US bank, with its headquarters and significant part of its business coming from New York, to understand the evolution.

In the sixties, and perhaps seventies, with rising prosperity, and with the growth of retail franchises, the need for separating processing activities that were not customer-facing, started being felt.

This is where the first stage of outsourcing, as we know it today, perhaps started, when this bank looked at options which were not far in physical terms, but where processing could be done in a much more inexpensive manner, and perhaps more efficiently. At this stage, it moved its large-scale processing activities from expensive New York to a lower cost option in the state of New Jersey.

Volumes kept rising. Communication technology improved. Air travel kept rising in frequency, cutting down time and distance between locations. The bank, at this stage, perhaps in the early eighties, having had experience of outsourced processing, became comfortable enough to move processing activities much further into the hinterland, even though most documents would still need to be moved manually. At this stage the bank moved processing to Des Moines in Iowa.

Competition and margin pressure kept rising. Communications technology kept improving. By the nineties, it became possible to move data and voice communication lines, at a commercially viable price. Eager to take advantage of labour cost arbitrage, which would more than make up for higher telecommunications cost, the bank started moving large-volume work, like Contact Centres, to India and the Philippines.

Competition and margin pressure kept rising. Communications technology kept improving. By the start of the new millennium, having tasted success with earlier outsourcing efforts, the bank started moving functions which were smaller, and perhaps more core to its business, like HRM and F and A, in an effort to take advantage of lower cost, as well as superior processing with a faster turnaround facilitated by the time difference. BPO companies in other geographies around the world started gaining scale and competing for business with India and the Philippines.

The bank continues to look for opportunities and the BPO services keep evolving. As existing manual processes get automated, newer tasks and processes are born. Now the bank is looking to outsource the moderation of user generated content (UGC) on its website.

In a nutshell, businesses will continue to look for value. It is hard coded in their DNA.

Choosing a Business Process Outsourcing Company

With the foregoing perspective, choosing a partner for our processing activities should become a reasonably straightforward process. At least we now know that the evaluation should be based on criteria that drive business value, and nothing else. The BPO service company we engage for our work should be able to deliver the best quality to us, in the quickest time, at the best price.

How do we establish the potential of a company to do this for us?

Range of services

Business Process Outsourcing covers a wide range of services. While at the point of choosing a BPO services company for outsourcing, the most important would be to ensure that the vendor has prior experience in your current requirement so that the learning curve is not long and steep, verifying the range of services offered and their capability helps establish the depth of their experience and their ability to support you as and when you choose to go beyond the current scope.

oWorkers specialises in content-oriented services in which we offer a wide range covering data entry, data processing, data annotation and content moderation. Over eight years of operation, we have processed millions of transactions for over a hundred clients.

Industry exposure and client confidence

It always adds value if a client can recommend your services. In addition to having one or more referenceable clients, for a BPO company, the cross-industry range covered as well as the number of clients served, is a useful indicator for its capability. Each industry, and different clients in the same industry, are likely to have variations in their requirements which will add to the knowledge bank and experience of the provider.

oWorkers has served over a hundred clients across a set of widely different industries like companies engaged in dematerialization, aggregators, marketplaces, e-merchants, e-travel players,  AI companies, online media, gaming apps, social media websites, video production houses, universities and accounting firms, to name a few.

Multi site backup

When a business process is entrusted to a BPO company, the client does not retain manpower or other resources to provide cover in case the partner fails to deliver, perhaps on account of an external force, like a natural calamity, that makes the facility inaccessible and uproots the telecommunications infrastructure. It would be an extra cost and defeat the purpose of outsourcing. Such events, though infrequent, can occur. Though delay in work under such extenuating circumstances can be explained, the preference for a business would be if there is an arrangement that provides cover. Global BPO companies tend to operate from multiple sites, which can operate as back-ups for one another.

oWorkers provides BPO services from three of the most preferred global locations for the business. Where required, we are able to provide multi-site support that can also operate as a business contingency measure in the event one of the sites is down for some reason beyond our control. Our sites operate 24×7 and geared to offer best-in-class turnaround time.

Language Support

BPO being a truly global business, where clients as well as the Business Process Outsourcing company could be in any geographical location around the world, the ability to handle business from anywhere requires multilingual capability. Businesses are always looking to expand. Whether you are already global or aspire to be, you will need a vendor with the ability to support your growth, rather than you having to look for another one to support a new language.

oWorkers supports clients in over 20 global languages covering most of the widely used ones. We are also open to adding languages to our supported list if a client has a requirement outside the list.

Project Management and Transition expertise

Moving work over to a BPO company requires a ‘lift and shift’ sort of an operation. Work being done within the client’s organisation under the responsibility of their team till today, will be done in the vendor’s company under supervision of the vendor’s team from tomorrow. This process is known as ‘transition’ and needs to be done carefully, lest parts fall through the crack, to be discovered only after the business has suffered damage. The skill of carrying out a ‘transition’ under the discipline of ‘Project Management’ is a critical skill at the time a new business process is outsourced to a partner.

Our project management and transition experience has been a key contributor to oWorkers having served hundreds of satisfied clients over eight years. For us, a client’s delivery experience begins the moment a contract is signed and the transition process is initiated, which our Project Management team takes up and owns through the point where the delivery organization can take it over. Our numerous engagements have also helped us in honing our practices further.

Technology Infrastructure

Technology being the key enabler, ensuring currency with technology, as well as the mindset of tracking technology developments and keeping pace with them, will be good qualities to possess for a BPO services company.

With 85% of our clients being technology companies, we are always on our toes to stay one step ahead while we serve them. We have forged partnerships with companies that own the technologies needed for our work, which enables us to deploy them in the service of our clients.

Data Security

As the operations are on clients’ data, which moves around from client to vendor, and from one processor to another, a Business Process Outsourcing company has to ensure security of this data. Data is a key resource for a business and loopholes in maintenance of data can compromise the ability of the business. This typically works hand in hand with technology as data is mostly used in a digital format.

oWorkers operates from secure facilities and protocols. GDPR compliance is a requirement, not a choice, as we operate from the Eurozone. We are also ISO certified (27001:2013 & 9001:2015).

Attrition Management and Hiring

‘It is a feature, not a bug,’ is how Business Process Outsourcing companies often justify their attrition. While true to some extent, attrition is a constant bugbear for many of them and often the difference between a successful one and a not-so-successful one. The impact of attrition runs through the financials right down to the bottomline. Limiting attrition means a significant upside not only in knowledge retention but always in saving the cost incurred on hiring and training more and more resources. Attrition and Hiring are directly linked. The greater the attrition the greater the hiring need. And vice versa.

oWorkers is deeply committed to the communities we work in. A job with oWorkers is among the more desirable opportunities for people in the workforce which enables us to attract a steady flow of interested candidates for our open positions. It also enables us to ramp up and down for client requirements and seasonal volume handling with ease. We can commit to ramping up by almost a hundred resources within 48 hours. We provide the flexibility for our resources to work from home during the pandemic which also ensures that our delivery continues unhindered.

Internal Quality

As a client, once you have outsourced your requirements to a professional outfit, you should not need to be involved on a day-to-day basis in running that business. The organisation of the vendor should step us to play that role. This is where the Internal Quality team plays an important role in a BPO. It keeps tabs on the output produced by the delivery team and ensures that the output that eventually reaches the client is of good quality.

oWorkers relies on its QA (Quality Analysis) and QC (Quality Control) processes to keep the delivery teams honest. The reporting line of this team is kept independent of the delivery team to ensure their work is not compromised. They also form an important link in keeping senior management informed.

Regulatory and Financial position

While ability to deliver is an obvious requirement, equally important is to ensure that the BPO company that seeks to be a partner is a friend of the establishment and the regulatory environment it operates in.

It is also important for the partner to be in a financially sound position so that the client can be assured of continuity of services at least in the immediate future.

oWorkers operates locally registered entities in all its delivery locations. It pays local taxes as well as social taxes from its employees. The work you outsource to us enables us to hire a few more disadvantaged people and help them become a part of the global digital workforce. oWorkers has been a consistently profitable enterprise with practices that help us keep costs in control and share the savings with our clients through competitive pricing.

In Conclusion

oWorkers has been ranked amongst the top 3 data entry companies in the world. Our pricing is transparent and we can offer clients a choice of per unit of time pricing or per unit of output pricing. Several clients have reported savings of up to 80%. Many of our clients are referenceable and displayed on our website. A number of unicorn marketplaces choose oWorkers as their BPO company. We hope you will too.

Guide to Egypt Outsourcing (BPO)

Guide to Egypt Outsourcing (BPO)

Guide to Egypt Outsourcing (BPO)

 

If one had to find the center of the world, chances are that it would be in or close to Egypt. Egypt has Europe directly above across the Mediterranean, Africa languorously stretched out below, the mass of Asia hulking to the right with the Americas a hop across the Atlantic to the left.

For a business that involves providing a variety of services to its clients across the world as is the case with Business Process Outsourcing, or BPO, there perhaps could not be a better location than Egypt. With telecommunications technology making it possible for work to be done in the most appropriate locations, anywhere in the world, Egypt BPO is ready to make its geographical location count.

But it was not always this way. Egypt outsourcing was nowhere near as established as a natural provider of BPO services just a few years back as it is today.

Outsourcing services started getting recognized when consumer businesses started gaining in volume and reach. This could have happened sometime around the middle of the 20th century. Having said that, outsourcing has always been an option for a business or organization or even individuals, from time immemorial. Hiring a teacher or tutor for your children can be considered as a form of outsourcing, can it not? Instead of tutoring your children yourself, you are outsourcing the task to a ‘vendor’ for a commercial consideration. Pope Julius II commissioning Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel could be considered as an act of outsourcing, could it not?

The initial push was for ‘internal outsourcing’ where businesses would segregate the teams that were carrying out activities that met their criteria and could be segregated. This could be based on volume, it could be based on whether it was customer-facing or not, or it could be based on whether it needs to be done in real-time or could be done with a lag. Whatever the criteria, such work areas started being identified and handled as separate units. Along the way, professional outsourcing firms emerged to take on the responsibility and even provide better results as a result of their focus and proficiency.

As volumes grew, along with pressure on expensive downtown real estate, outsourced units started being moved away from these prime locations into less expensive ones, keeping in mind work requirements along with availability of manpower. Outsourced units continued to be placed further and further away from the ‘client’ units to get the benefits of cheaper real estate and manpower availability till we reached the nineties when commercial use of the internet freed outsourcing from the shackles of being located within a certain geographical area or distance and gave rise to offshoring.

A feature of outsourcing is that work tends to flow from what we know as a more ‘developed’ economy to a ‘less’ developed one as there are cost saving opportunities to be had. Till the time outsourcing was bound by physical distances and boundaries, work that was being outsourced, was probably being done not too far away. Being one of the more ‘developed’ economies in its neck of the woods, Egypt was not suitable for any BPO work that may have been generated by its neighbors. It might actually have been in a position to outsource work to its neighbors. However, once the geographical limitations were taken off, Egypt was able to get into the game.

Being the biggest economy in the world, a lot of the initial traffic was generated by the US. The initial beneficiaries for locating BPO business were countries like India and the Philippines whose large English-speaking populations could handle the requirements which were mostly in English. Not only for the US but other smaller, ‘developed’ economies like the UK, Australia and Canada, all primarily English-speaking nations. Soon the practice was adopted by other Western European nations, putting Egypt outsourcing firmly center-stage.

 

Political stability

Political developments over the last decade would have caused uncertainty and turmoil in a relatively new Egypt outsourcing industry. While a long-time ruler does present a veneer of stability, it appears to be a case of ‘all may not have been well under the veneer’ as the situation unravelled in 2011 with the Arab Spring uprising. The junta that took over power eventually yielded to elections that paved the way for the current President as-Sisi to take over the reigns of power.

Business needs a stable and predictable political climate to flourish. Investment decisions are based on long-term prospects. Frequent governance changes are likely to keep investors away as they are bound to be concerned about the safety and viability of their investments. Hence, for business to flourish, or indeed any activity, an enabling, stable political environment is a necessity. Recognizing this truism, Egypt has invested in improving the telecommunications infrastructure that drives the internet and also created economic zones with a supporting environment for technology companies.

oWorkers respects local decision-making and hopes for political stability in all regions of the world, necessary for mitigating human misery and improvement in quality of life. Our Cairo center is an important cog in our BPO wheel and we are hopeful it will continue to grow and create opportunities in the local economy.

 

Business-friendly economic policies that support Egypt outsourcing

Though we have discussed political stability, which is no doubt a pre-requisite, business organizations, apart from a transparent law and order mechanism, are interested in the economic environment where there is stability and consistency, encourages businesses to operate with freedom, without the fear of sudden changes that could jeopardize their business and investments.

Proof of the pudding being in the eating, more than the speeches of political and business leaders, large, widely known companies like Google and IBM operating from Egypt over several years is a sign of confidence to other, smaller players as well. Physically located at civilizational crossroads, Egypt is viewed as a gateway to Europe, Africa and West Asia and a potential hub for technology and business process services.

oWorkers operates from the capital city and main urban agglomeration of Cairo, from the Maadi area which is well known as the best business location in the city. As recently as 2019, Cairo has been identified as one of the top-ranked worldwide outsourcing destinations according to AT Kearney & Tholons.

 

Client accessibility

BPO work tends to flow from locations that are advanced on the development scale to locations that are less so. The major demand for BPO services continues to emanate from North America and Western Europe, with an effort at reducing processing costs while gaining access to a larger talent pool.

While telecommunications technology does drive the business to all corners of the globe, the importance of physical oversight and a touch-and-feel, even though it may be occasional, cannot be overstated. Clients also need to ensure that the processing activities being done by a vendor do not mar the brand in any manner. Hence, physical proximity of the provider does become a factor in many deals.

Egypt outsourcing companies like oWorkers are located in close proximity to one of their major client markets, that of Western Europe. No major European capital is more than a 5-hour flight away from Cairo.

 

Egypt outsourcing companies can access a large, qualified labor pool

While a supporting environment and infrastructure is essential for any activity, in case of BPO, once the basics are aligned, technology and human resources are the two main factors in continuing success of the business.

With its status as a progressive society in the region, and with an established education infrastructure, Egypt has drawn youngsters from neighboring societies for higher education and work opportunities. Its annual outturn of 500,000 graduates provides a unique growth opportunity to the industry to scale up operations. Taking the 100 million population into account as well, Egypt has the wherewithal to challenge the hegemony of established providers like India and the Philippines.

oWorkers establishes ties in the communities it works with and strives to achieve the status of a preferred employer. Cairo is no different. Known as a fair employer with transparent work policies, we attract a lot of footfall from interested jobseekers that gives us access to a perennial talent pool. All our staff are employees, not freelancers. We pay social taxes for our employees and have been rated above 4.6/5 consistently on Glassdoor.

 

Multilingual capability

As businesses around the world have acquired scale, the need for multilingual processing has expanded. When a business expands and comes into contact with regions that use other languages, it does not want to go looking for another provider to handle that requirement. It would like a partner that can support its growth. Besides, global ambitions of businesses are rising, not reducing.  

Egypt BPO providers can dip into a large workforce of talent with capability in a wide variety of languages. Apart from the ubiquitous English, graduate studies with the language of study being either French or German is quite common. As is the language of study being Spanish, Turkish or Italian. Russian and Chinese speakers are also available. Other languages include Farsi, Greek, Siamese, Hebrew, Urdu, Korean, Japanese and Czech.

Being a provider to multinational organizations from around the world, multilingual capability remains a key element of oWorkers’ BPO proposition with Cairo being an integral part of it, with its ability to cater to a large cross-section of global languages.

 

Internet and Telecommunications

Apart from human resources, technology is the other key driver of this industry. The rapid advances in telecommunications technology has been the catalyst for the growth that has taken the industry to the far corners of the world and brought millions of people into the fold of the connected world.

With the introduction of 4G technology in the country and investments in upgrading to fiber optic cabling, the government is keen to position Egypt as a ‘digital canal’ perhaps as a reference to the Suez Canal that connects Europe to Asia as a shipping route. With greater reliance on the internet, like for example during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns, telecommunications infrastructure can only get better, making the industry backbone more supple.

Like other Egypt outsourcing providers, oWorkers relies on the improving network to connect with the world and offer its services. The Communications and Information Technology ministry has said that it is investing USD 1.6 bn to improve internet speed, with the aim of reaching 40 mbps by the end of 2021. In addition, we operate from secure facilities and protocols for your data security with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015).

 

Time Zone in which Egypt BPO operates

The sun rises and sets in different parts of the world at different times, driving our circadian rhythms. With BPO work being done from all corners of the globe, time zones become a factor in choosing a provider.

Providers enjoy the benefit of being present in a time zone that is fairly closely aligned with its major markets in Western Europe. This allows for ease in handling real-time work, customer calls for instance, or social media moderation, the bulk of which is likely to arise during daytime hours, which are similar on both the client and the provider side.

Of course, BPO providers have long shown the commitment to operate night shifts to handle client work, if that adds value.

Sharing its time zone with Bulgaria, Estonia, South Africa, Finland, Greece, Romania, and others, oWorkers in Egypt operates on East European Time (EET), which is UTC + 2 (with the offset for Daylight Savings). This permits smooth daytime operations for Western European clients as well as clients from West Asia. Of course, oWorkers also offers 24×7 processing facilities, should there be a client need.

 

Operating Cost and Infrastructure

Like for like, Egypt could be offering the best value to clients. It has been gradually rising the Ease of Doing Business index published by the World Bank since the turmoil of 2011. Coupled with the availability of resources at a cost lower than many locations in India, attrition rates that are much lower for comparable projects in India, education levels that require only moderate investments in training and skilling, Egypt BPO becomes an irresistible combination.

Transport in Cairo comprises an extensive road network, rail system, subway system and maritime services for the more than 15.2 million inhabitants of the city.

oWorkers operates from a digitally and physically secure facility in the Maadi area of Cairo.  Our BPO services company offers cost savings of up to 80 %, without compromising on quality, as advised by some of our clients.

We are a company specializing in data services and have been ranked among the Top 3 in the world.

With a management team that has a cumulative experience of over 20 years, with oWorkers you engage a provider that will enable you to get the benefits of working from a center located in the center of the world, within easy reach from any part on any side.

Guide to Bulgaria Business Process Outsourcing

Guide to Bulgaria Business Process Outsourcing

Guide to Bulgaria Business Process Outsourcing

 

Where in the world?

This might well be the question asked by an outsourcer today, wherever he is, while trying to identify a suitable location for outsourcing his business processes to.

Thanks to advances in telecommunications technology, he has the whole world available to him for his business.

Developments in telephony, fiber optics, satellite communications and widespread use of the Internet, made Internet-based communication and transfer of data possible, paving the path for carrying voice and data cheaply over long distances, leading to the opening up of outsourcing opportunities from anywhere to anywhere and the development and growth of global outsourcing locations distributed across the world.

There has been an evolution at each stage of development.

Primary focus on getting away from the high-cost economies of the West and process in an economical manner, in a place providing much lower labor cost, gave way to process improvements which moved to the phase of BPO centers showing the path to delivery excellence, eventually moving on to innovation and flexibility.

The nature of processes outsourced has also kept evolving. Labor-intensive, repetitive processes like data-entry and medical transcription were the first to be outsourced. As confidence grew and telecom costs kept coming down, it gave way to transaction processing and Call Centre activities, evolving to more complex tasks like F&A, HRO and Legal which could be defined in terms of some rules, but also required exercise of some thinking on part of the processor.

Of course, developments in the world have also led to changes in the mix of services being outsourced. Ecommerce was perhaps not even a gleam in anyone’s eyes when BPO started, but today data-entry and other support services for ecommerce businesses is a large component of BPO work. As is data labeling and annotation for creating training data for the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) models.

Structure of companies and the contracts they sign has also kept evolving. The early captive centers were an extension of the parent and did not require too much contract negotiation or specification of processes. As the business evolved, the need to define measures through which the contract would be measured became apparent. Contracts started becoming detailed and complex. The initial FTE based deals, defining work outsourced in terms of people employed, gradually started giving way to output based deals where compensation would be based on the amount of work done. The industry has also experimented with outcome or result based deals.

Of course, some things don’t change. Cost reduction is still an objective. Data-entry work is still being done, perhaps for different businesses and for different requirements.

Even though telecommunication has made it possible for your work to be done from anywhere, the choice of a partner and location continues to be an important business decision.

 

The rise of Bulgaria Business Process Outsourcing industry

With an area of a little over 100,000 sq. km., population around 7 million and monthly gross wage of Euro 650, Bulgaria is an unlikely contender in the BPO stakes, traditionally dominated by locations with a large population, multiple urban centers and low wages.

But it has emerged strongly with advantages that outweigh what on the surface may be limitations. Its membership of the EU creates a regulatory environment that inspires confidence in investors as well as clients’ evaluation location options. With well established civic systems like power supply and transportation, it has no hidden costs, unlike other places where businesses need to cater to diesel-based electricity generating units and transporting staff to and from work. It has a well established and proven educational system which delivers a workforce of a quality far higher than many others.

Its accessibility in terms of travel time from major European capitals as well as time zone displacement from the farthest reaches of the continent, make it a preferred destination for clients who have a need for physical contact, even if it is occasional.

It is now an important contributor to the economy, paying EUR 30.5 million in taxes in 2019, 2.5% of all taxes paid. And the contribution is growing in percentage and value terms.

 

BPO location – making a choice

Choosing a place for locating a business or service is a normal business decision. As an outsourcer, you need to ensure that the outsourcing decision adds value to the business, like any other decision you take for the business.

With BPO being a global business, while it provides you with plenty of choices, it also makes the decision more complex. What are the factors that might be relevant when you choose a location which will become the primary delivery point for a process that is a part of your business?

Political Environment

The governance and political climate of a nation is where the other sectors take cues from. Stability and transparency in decision-making at the governance level is important for a business to develop the confidence to invest. It is difficult for a business to make an investment decision based on a certain set of regulations if it has experienced that the rules keep changing on the whim of the person or persons in power.

oWorkers operates in a free, transparent, competitive environment provided by Bulgaria and the same is available to clients who can be free from concerns of exploitation and other practices, especially with respect to human resources, when they partner with us.

Freedom House, a non-profit that rates nations on their level of freedom, rates Bulgaria as a ‘free’ state with a score of 78 out of 100 in the latest evaluation. Among major BPO destinations, this is one of the highest scores, perhaps second only to Poland, also in the EU. A few comments from the Freedom in the World 2021’ report:

‘The authorities generally respect constitutional guarantees of freedom of assembly.’

‘Bulgaria’s judiciary has benefited from legal and institutional reforms associated with EU membership, but it is still prone to politicization.’

‘Bulgaria’s democratic system holds competitive elections and has seen several transfers of power in recent decades.’ 

Economics and Business

Since we are talking about businesses, the economic situation perhaps is second only to the political environment when suitability of a location needs to be evaluated. Like the political environment, the economic environment needs to be governed by policies that are stable and transparent for private businesses to get confidence to invest, along with a system of governance considered fair.  

Bulgaria has a Real GDP Annual Growth Rate of 3.4% and GDP per capita of Euro 8809. Being integrated into the European economy ensures consistency and transparency for Bulgaria Business Process Outsourcing providers like oWorkers who can operate with confidence. Foreign exchange risks are limited with the currency being pegged to the Euro. With flat 10% corporate and personal income taxes, Bulgaria, without doubt, offers the lowest operating costs in the region.

Human resource availability

Being a people dependent industry, this is clearly a key variable to evaluate. Also, because of reasons good and bad, attrition is a feature that the industry has to contend with, requiring a continuous flow of fresh resources.

According to the AIBEST Annual Report 2020, outsourcing employed more than 77,950 people at the end of 2019, 67% being in Bulgaria BPO centers.

‘Approximately 80% of the working-age population has secondary or higher education, above the EU average. In 2019, there were 51,460 university and college graduates and Mathematics Informatics Gold Silver Bronze over 18,500 of them could be suitable employees for the sourcing industry.’

oWorkers pays competitive wages to attract qualified candidates for whom working in a BPO is an attractive option as the industry salary is higher than the average in the country and ensures a good standard of living.

Resource Cost

Related to resource availability is the issue of cost at which resources become available to Bulgaria BPO providers, and the compensating features of that wage variance. If resources are more expensive, are they also more able that will create value in delivery and offset some of the training costs? In addition, one needs to also factor in the cost to acquire and retain that resource. In other words, is a lot of effort required to attract the right talent? Effort will translate to cost, and the greater the effort the greater the cost.

According to the AIBEST Annual Report 2020, in 2019, Bulgaria had the lowest average hourly labour cost across the EU, based on Eurostat data. It stood at EUR 6.0, or more than four times lower than the EU28 average of EUR 27.7. The gross monthly wage in Bulgaria is Euro 650. With its center located in Plovdiv, oWorkers offers a wage advantage of at least 30% over the capital Sofia.

Telecommunications Network

Telecommunications is the lubricant that has oiled the wheels of the BPO industry and allowed it to expand to the far corners of the world. Bulgaria BPO industry cannot be different. Even though it is almost a given in today’s context, from a business perspective we still need to tick the boxes and satisfy ourselves that the available infrastructure will meet business needs.

With a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, with broadband speeds among the fastest in SEE (South Eastern Europe) and the third fastest mobile Internet speed in Europe, oWorkers services are based on this reliable, modern network that connects to the world. In addition, as the center operates within the overarching EU legislation, our information security and privacy regulations are compliant with Eurozone requirements.

Time Zone

Different time zones are followed in different locations around the world. Being in a different time zone could be a bane or a boon depending on the context. Being in a time zone with a large difference from the client might enable speedier, overnight processing. On the flip side, requiring staff to work off hours in the BPO center might be a difficult task and also more expensive as ‘off hours’ and ‘overtime pay’ components may kick in.

oWorkers in Bulgaria is on East European Time (EET), which is UTC + 2 and shared with Estonia, Finland, Greece, South Africa, Romania and several others. It enables daytime coverage of the entire set of clients from anywhere in Europe with an offset of only two hours.

Physical proximity

As owners of a process that is being handled by a provider, it is perfectly acceptable for the client to want to ‘touch and feel’ the processing center and interact with the people doing their work to ensure it is being done the right way and to instil the values and ethos of the brand in the people who are working for it. Though advances in communication technologies have substantially reduced the need for physical movement, either of people or of artefacts, between the originating and the processing locations, it cannot be said to have been eliminated.

The Bulgaria BPO facility of oWorkers being only a 3 hour flight away from the farthest corners of the European continent will be a comfort for many clients. Lisbon, London and Oslo would perhaps be the farthest which are approximately 3 hours of flying time away. Moreover, in an increasingly jittery world that needs to react to real or perceived dangers, where occasional stoppage of flights is a possibility, there are multiple options of travel that are available, mainly train and road, as they are essentially different parts of the same continent.

Education and Training; Workforce readiness

There are many facets to being a people-driven industry, not just related to availability of manpower and hiring. An equally important aspect is the readiness of the workforce to deliver in a BPO environment that may require not only foundation skills like communication, language and handling  computer applications, but also function-specific ones like HR and Accounting and even industry-specific like Insurance, Banking and Retail. Though BPOs have training programs that enable people to deliver on client projects, the larger the gap, the greater the investment required in skilling. Hence, it is desirable that employees come with basic knowledge and skills.

A well-established education system, regarded highly for the quality of students it produces, especially in the mathematics and science areas, provides Bulgaria BPO providers like oWorkers with raw talent of a very high quality which only needs polishing on domain-specific areas to become ready for work. Sofia University even offers a Masters’ program titled “Outsourcing Project and Companies” designed for the industry. This is a unique academic program that much larger outsourcing destinations have not been able to create and demonstrates Bulgaria’s commitment to the sector.

Multilingual capability

Proficiency in language holding the key to communication, being multilingual expands the possibilities of communication. In any case, with global footprints of many businesses, the expectation is that a provider will be able to support, regardless of language.

oWorkers is one of the Bulgaria BPO companies that has leveraged the educated and skilled manpower, with its proficiency in languages, where even trilingualism is not uncommon, to offer services in multiple languages. On an aggregated basis, Bulgaria Business Process Outsourcing companies offer services in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Dutch, Russian, Swedish, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Hungarian, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Japanese, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, Serbian, Slovak, Croatian, Finnish, Korean, Estonian, Hindi, Bosnian, Catalan, Lithuanian, Macedonian and Slovenian.

Physical infrastructure

Infrastructure required for running a business can be of various kinds. Like power, which is the most time-critical resource for a business to run and required for running any sort of equipment, whether it is a PC, or a fan, or lighting, even most of the telecommunications equipment. Adequacy and continuity of power grid power needs to be ascertained. Or local transport, required for not only the business to operate but also employees to commute to and from work when working out of a physical facility.

Bulgaria’s electricity prices for industrial consumers, at EUR 0.11 per kWh, the average electricity price, including taxes and levies, are much lower than the EUR 0.15 per kWh for EU-28. With an efficient distribution system in place, it is one less worry for Bulgaria BPO management as compared to many other centers around the world.

Urban centers like Sofia and Plovdiv, the second largest city where oWorkers facilities are situated, have good transport access accounting for more than 90% of the planned office developments. Moreover, Plovdiv, features one of the lowest Class A office rents in SEE. Almost all the 535,000 people in Plovdiv live less than 30 minutes away from the city center.

 

oWorkers and Plovdiv – a winning combination

As a Bulgaria BPO services company, with a management team that has a cumulative experience of over 20 years, with oWorkers you engage a provider that will enable you to get the benefits of working from a center located in the Eurozone, one of the most developed parts of the world, of stable governance, consistent policies, established infrastructure and high levels of education and skill.

The benefits multiply with our choice of Plovdiv, the second largest city as the location for our center with the upside staying consistent but the downside in terms of costs being lower by at least 20%, which get passed on to clients.

Plovdic has 9 universities with more than 30,000 students, a third of whom are pursuing courses in IT & BPO related fields such as Information and Computer technologies, Business Management and Administration, Language Studies and Finance & Accounting. It also has 29 vocational schools, 37 general high schools and 7 foreign language and math high schools, 78 vocational training centers and 10 applied science institutes and labs.

Easily reachable via road, Plovdiv has its own airport and railway station. The distance to Bulgaria’s main airport in Sofia is 140 km.

With such a supporting environment, it is no surprise that oWorkers is one of 74 sourcing companies located in the Plovdiv District.

Fundamentals of an Operational Optimization

Fundamentals of an Operational Optimization

Fundamentals of an Operational Optimization

They say that you need to get down into the trenches to fight a battle. It cannot be done merely making strategy in a safe war-room. It is great, and important, to make strategy, to plan, and a lot of very able and experienced people do that, but at some point someone needs to go beyond and fire a bullet, hammer a nail, till the soil, whatever, if any results are to be expected. Merely making strategy and thinking about possible actions will not go very far.

The same is the case with operational optimization.

It is a great idea. Every business leader is not only aware of it, but also buys into it. They are all aware that in a competitive world, it needs to be a continuous process. Everyone in the business should be thinking about it all the time, because their competitors are also doing it.

But eventually, after all the ideating and sermonizing and strategizing is done, it needs to be done.

There are some areas which have been found relevant by many BPOs, as areas that with some focus are capable of delivering enhanced performance. These could benefit the client if specific to a project, or could benefit the supplier, or, as is most likely the case, both. In a partnership, benefits realized by one often spill over to the other. Perhaps true for hindrances as well.

In order that you do not miss the low hanging fruit, not from the ease of benefit realization perspective but more from the perspective of knowing where to look, 8 such areas have been identified and listed in this article.

oWorkers is committed to its niche of data entry services in the BPO space. It is identified as one of the top 3 providers of data services in the world. With expertise gathered over 8 years, it has been working with over a hundred clients and looking for opportunities to make improvements in extant processes. 

Higher customer satisfaction (or experience) score

Customer satisfaction is the holy grail for any business that interfaces with customers. And that means all. A business needs to have customers for it to be one. Often, BPO partners also interact directly with customers. In fact, in some cases the partner perhaps handles a lot more customer interface than the client whose customers they are, particularly when customer interface channels like Call Centers have been outsourced to suppliers. Improving the customer experience has to be a primary variable for any operational optimization envisaged by a company.

Whoever does the interface, customer satisfaction is in everyone’s interest. When he sang “Everything I do, I do it for you,” Bryan Adams may have had amorous intent. However, a business could just as easily sing the same song for its customers without changing a word. They are the reason for their existence, survival and (hopefully) prosperity.

Regardless of the type of measure deployed, with the two most common ones being Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT and Net Promoter Score (NPS), the objective has to be to enhance satisfaction and reduce dissatisfaction.

An NPS survey is usually done at a point of contact or transaction while a CSAT survey is an aggregate that is done periodically. Some companies believe surveys are subject to human bias, of the customer in this case, and prefer to use objective data points like repeat contacts made by a customer if she is calling in, to assess how long it took to resolve the issue. The fewer the contacts, the quicker the resolution.

The key is to establish a baseline measure that is suitable for you, carrying it out repeatedly, identifying the variables that impact scores, to the extent possible, and working on them for resolution.

Reduction in customer dissatisfaction and complaints

Reducing dissatisfaction is at least as important as enhancing satisfaction because in a competitive world, customers often ‘vote with their feet.’ They have no responsibility for telling you what they are dissatisfied about and simply get up and walk away to your competitor, without you ever knowing what went wrong or what you could have done better.

Also, a disengaged customer is perhaps less interested in providing feedback to the company if requested, as compared to a still-interested customer. Hence, it is possible that CSAT and NPS surveys report an inaccurately high positive picture drawn from them. 

Some companies make an extra effort to surface customer dissatisfaction with the objective of identifying them early and heading off the point at which the customer ‘votes with her feet.’ Before she reaches that point, she is likely to have gone through stages where she was perhaps still trying to seek resolution but the responses she received kept pushing her towards the exit door.

While customer dissatisfaction scores are important, some companies, in the belief that these could be biased, try to base their efforts on objective data like customer complaints. Their operational optimization efforts rely on a detailed analysis of customer complaints combined with monitoring trends to ensure they are headed in the right direction.

oWorkers has been trusted by several unicorn marketplaces with their operations. In addition, a large section of our clients are technology companies. This also keeps us on our toes and ensures we deploy the best technologies available.

Reduction in idle time

Idle time could be defined as the time, or duration of time, when paid resources are not engaged in activities that contribute to their assigned work. It could be on account of inadequate work in the queue, it could be because the process is setup in a manner that waiting cannot be avoided, or it could even be a consciously provided idle time in order to prevent resource burnout, especially in repetitive tasks.

Leaving aside conscious idle time, the company will benefit from a reduction in all other forms of idle time. It could be through a tweak of the process sequence or it could be through updated load balancing, as this is time already paid for, without additional cost there is an opportunity of getting additional units produced.

oWorkers works on an employee model, and not a freelancer model. Though it creates the responsibility for managing the careers and growth of staff, it provides us greater flexibility in terms of deployment, helping us review measures like idle time and take steps to keep them in check. With our deep connections in local communities, we are able to offer just-in-time hiring to clients, enabling them to minimize idle resources during lean periods.

Enhancement of output for operational optimization

Doing more with the same, doing the same with less and doing more with less are the eternal mantras of all organizations that are the surrogate variables that enable the organization to move towards its goal of maximization of profit.

Enhancement of output is a key variable, since business is about producing a product or service that gets purchased by a client and generates a revenue stream that goes towards meeting costs as well as profit. If there is no revenue, there is no business. And revenue is an aggregate of products and services sold.

The more the number of units of output, the greater the revenue, and consequently profit, opportunity. As we have discussed elsewhere, this enhancement has to ensure that nothing else changes, or changes only within defined parameters. If you are hiring more people or buying more equipment for increasing output, then it is an expansion, not an improvement or optimization play. But, enhancing output without increasing production costs is an improvement that we should all strive for.

With a culturally diverse team across its three centers, oWorkers offers support in over 22 global languages and works with clients to explore output enhancement options on a continuous basis.

Employment of fewer resources

Operational optimization through deployment of fewer resources is like a mirror image of output enhancement. In terms of units produced per unit of cost or investment it would perhaps achieve similar results. If today we produce 100 units at a cost of $25 per unit, we might try to improve that to a lower number, as would be the case with production enhancement with the same cost structure.

The deployment strategy would depend on the other variables in the mix. Is there a demand for the enhanced production? Are additional resources available at similar or lower costs? Does the company have cash available to invest in more equipment?

Of course, better than producing more with the same and producing same with less would be producing more with less. All options should be kept open. Eventually all roads that lead to the attainment of the goals of the business should be kept open and paved and free from any potholes that could slow us down.

oWorkers is GDPR compliant and ISO ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified. This makes our processes sharp and ensures we don’t carry fat in any part of our operations.

Shorter training duration

Joined at the hip with hiring in a BPO is training. There is usually an almost continuous working of the hiring machinery that keeps providing fodder for the training machinery that smoothens the rough edges and produces diamonds that step out and deliver on client processes and projects.

Though some may argue that it is dependent on the hiring machinery and does not have control over its destiny, others might disagree and argue that any process that needs to be performed as a conscious effort, and involves people, has opportunity for review and improvement. The training process in a BPO is no different.

For the many BPOs that provide training to new hires at their own (the company’s) cost, each minute spent in training is a cost. Hence, if they can find ways of providing the same quality of inputs in a shorter duration of time, it will again contribute towards the end goals of the company.

E-learning technologies have emerged as likely saviours of training teams, equipping them with tools through which they can do more with less. After an initial investment in creating the automated content, e-learning could provide a quick payback in terms of saved trainer time and physical classroom space, leading to operational optimization.

Many clients have reported savings of upto 80% over their pre-outsourcing costs. With the help of initiatives like a close monitoring of training duration, we are able to keep costs reasonable and share the benefits with our clients.

Reduction of manpower attrition

Attrition in the industry has often been compared to a leaking bucket. All efforts at shoring up manpower resources come to nought as the resource bucket the hiring team is trying to fill up has many leaks. Resources keep leaking out of this bucket through attrition, often faster than the hiring tap is filling it.

Of course, it varies from company to company, process to process and location to location. Numerous attempts have been made by the employers to find the root cause and characteristics for it that could enable them to take corrective steps and continue to be made. Do female employees have higher attrition than male? Do graduates attrite more than non-graduates? Do people who need to travel far have a higher tendency to leave as compared to people who live close to the workplace? Is attrition based on the management style of individual team leaders? Is the nature of the client project a determinant in attrition levels? Do centers in big cities face higher attrition than those in smaller towns?

Companies have been trying to answer these questions with a view to taking strategic decisions in order to have a favorable impact on attrition numbers. Attrition is a significant cost. Not only in terms of resources expended in the hiring process, but also in training them. In addition, possibly lower quality delivered at the start by new hires could also be considered as a cost to the business.

Over a period of time, some companies have reached the conclusion that while lower is obviously better, it is a fact of the industry and needs to be managed. Hence, some of them focus on reducing the cost impact caused by attrition and not necessarily the actual number of people leaving. Early go-live and a higher component of performance-based salary have been experimented with by some organizations. As are efforts at setting clear expectations at the time of hiring, which was not always done as the hiring team is goaled on the quantity and speed of hires.

Though oWorkers has been best-in-class as far as attrition is concerned, it leaves no stone unturned to match hiring to client requirements to ensure processes are not adversely impacted at a later stage due to incorrect hiring and attrition. It employs a variety of tools, including emotional and psychometric assessments, to identify the right resources.

Reduction of wait time for operational optimization

Wait time is the time a transaction needs to wait in a holding queue before it is picked up for processing. It does not necessarily apply only to inanimate transactions that typically sit in a queue. It equally applies to a customer who calls in but needs to wait in a queue before the next agent becomes available.

Reduction of a customer’s wait time in a holding queue can positively impact the customer experience.

Reduction of a transaction’s wit time in the processing queue could enhance the efficiency of the overall process and might also impact the customer experience if the output needs to go back to the customer.

Essentially, wait time reduction relies on the ability of the provider to forecast volumes reasonably accurately and set up the service arrangements to match those volume flows. Product mix can change, as can consumer behavior, and service technology. Hence, processes need to be reviewed with a pair of fresh eyes and perspective for identifying opportunities of wait time reduction.

The 20 years plus hands-on experience of our leadership team comes in handy whether it is reducing wait time or any other initiative that helps the company achieve its goals.

The oWorkers advantage

The Quality team of oWorkers is an independent team that reports directly to senior management. Not only does that keep senior management informed about developments on the shopfloor, it also enables the Quality team to keep a check on the output of the delivery team. It leads and guides all improvement initiatives undertaken in oWorkers and is staffed with experts on various quality systems.

8 process optimization techniques: How to get started

8 process optimization techniques: How to get started

8 process optimization techniques: How to get started

A process is understood to refer to a series of steps designed to lead to a particular end or goal, in the common language sense of the term. 

In an organization, ‘process’ is used in almost identical fashion, and collectively signifies the sequence that needs to be gone through, or actions that need to be performed, to move from the starting point to the ending point, of that process, not necessarily of the entire product or service.

An organization is perpetually in the throes of trying to achieve something, because that something or the many somethings give it the reason for its existence. As an artificial entity, if it is not delivering or doing what it was created for, there would be no point in it existing. At any given point of time there are numerous processes in motion simultaneously.

Need to set up a meeting with the Finance Head? You need to reach out. Either offer your available slots or ask the Finance Head for the same? The other person then checks and confirms one. It is a process.

A new employee has been hired and needs to be onboarded. The identified HR resource will take the new hire through the onboarding process that will familiarize her with the company and enable her to function better. It is a process.

One of the clients has called in to report an issue being faced with your company’s SaaS solution that they had purchased. You will be logging it with the technical team. Based on priority allocated, they will take it up for investigation and resolution. They will implement the change that is required, through a process, and confirm to you. You will confirm to the client. It is a process.

In a way everything is a process.

But how did they come about? Who set them up?

The answer to this lies in the reason for the existence of the business that is being served by these processes. The big goal is well defined, that of making money, by engaging in a certain kind of work or activity. However, making money is not something that can be done. It is an outcome or resultant. Effort of various kinds needs to be put in so that the end goals might be realized. By breaking down objectives into distinct steps that need to be performed, we end up with processes. When referred to in the context of a business, they are also referred to as business processes.

Method, system, procedure, workflow are some of the other terms that are used in place of process.

What is optimization?

Optimization is the term used for the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.

Read together, process optimization is the action that seeks to run a process in the most effective manner possible to equip the organization such that it has a better chance of achieving its goals. It is also often referred to as improvement or continuous improvement in different organizations. A slightly broader term used in a similar context is quality or total quality.

Despite providing best in class pricing and services, like the ability to ramp by a hundred resources in 48 hours, like pricing that enables clients to shave off almost 80% of their pre-outsourcing costs, oWorkers comes packed with a slew of resources adept at identifying and delivering improvement initiatives for client projects.

Process optimization techniques

We just learned that all planned activities in a company are processes that exist with the objective of facilitating the achievement of its goals.

If all work in a company is done through processes, then even process optimization, a process that seeks to make other processes more efficient, must be managed as a process.

Ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere. But merely an idea is not enough until it is implemented. The process of implementation requires discipline and acceptance. While an individual or solo entrepreneur might go about bringing about change in her own defined way, larger organizations place their trust in time-trusted processes that have been built through the effort of many before them.

Man’s need for striving and doing better has resulted in the evolution of many standards and process optimization techniques that are now widely used around the world. Most of them evolved with manufacturing, which is where most business processes were run, and have only in the last few decades begun to be applied to processes in service industries as they have continued to acquire scale. An overview of some of the more common ones is provided here:

 

1. Customer Operation Performance Center (COPC)

Another adherent to the elimination of waste philosophy. It is a collection of many standards governing performance of different types of organizations, like Vendor Management, Outsourced Service Provider, Healthcare Service Provider, etc.

It is almost like an overarching management philosophy that seeks to guide operations every step of the way, with a lot of emphasis on data collection. For OSPs, the framework evaluates benefits in terms of cost savings, revenue gains, performance gains and intangible benefits.

2. Six Sigma

Six Sigma has come to represent the philosophy of continuous improvement and is widely followed in service industries around the world.

Six Sigma is a statistical concept originally used in manufacturing. A process was said to be operating at six sigma levels of quality if it kept defects to under 3.4 for every million units produced. It is a data-driven technique that seeks to drive out variations in the process so that customers get a predictable experience.

3. International Standards Organization (ISO)

ISO is a private non-profit headquartered in Geneva whose mission is to promote the development of standardization. In order to keep pace with changing times they have introduced a number of quality management systems like ISO 9000:2005, ISO 9000:2008, ISO 9004:2009

It seeks to document elements needed to operate a quality system and follow the documentation. It focuses on customer satisfaction, meeting regulatory requirements and achieving improvement.

It can be applied to any industry. More than 160 nations are members of ISO.

4. Kaizen

A number of quality standards and improvement methodologies developed in Japan during the period after the second world war when it was trying to come out of the devastation of that war. Kaizen is one such. ‘Kai’ stands for change and ‘Zen’ for good. The Kaizen philosophy seeks to bring about change for the better.

The core beliefs of the philosophy are:

  • Good processes bring good results
  • Manage with data and facts
  • Big results come from small changes, over time
  • Correct the root cause, the rest will follow

5. Lean

The Lean methodology seeks to promote a culture of continuous improvement. Its focus is the elimination of all non-value-adding activities throughout the entire process chain.

Some common examples of waste that Lean might focus on: Overproduction, Waiting time, Transportation, Scrap, Rework and Inspection.

It promotes techniques for running a process such that waste can be eliminated.

6. People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM)

PCMM, modelled on CMM (Capability Maturity Model) has become a useful tool in the services world, with its focus on people and their development. With a battle raging for attracting the best resources, PCMM establishes a program for continuous development of the workforce, with integrated process improvement, and enables adopting organizations to become preferred employers. It focuses on institutionalization of change and introduces practices that are repeatable and measurable, eventually leading to a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement. It covers a wide variety of process areas, Training and Development, Compensation, Career Development, to name a few.

7. DMAIC

DMAIC stands for the Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control sequence of steps that this technique proposes.

It continues to be one of the most popular techniques adopted by organizations for their optimization initiatives. It does not need linkages with any steps in the past or future. It can be implemented as an independent set of steps for any change the organization seeks to bring about.

It can be used as a standalone or in conjunction with other standards like Six Sigma.

8. PDCA

PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act and is another popular technique used in many companies for process optimization. The process takes followers through the following sequence:

P

Plan

Establish objectives and method to be followed

D

Do

Implement the plan. Collect data before and after implementation.

C

Check

Study data and review results.

A

Act

Bake the new method into the regular processes or initiate another PDCA cycle till you reach goals.

One can do repeated cycles of PDCA and keep modifying the methodology as one learns more.

With the support of an independent Quality team, oWorkers stands shoulder to shoulder with its clients in the quality journey, constantly searching for areas where process optimization techniques could be implemented to achieve improvement. It consists of people adept at several of the techniques and are goaled on the improvement they are able to bring about.

 

The starting point

Whatever be the methodology adopted by the company to achieve its goals, the starting point is always a challenge.

Is it more valuable to improve customer satisfaction or should we focus on bringing down the cost of delivery?

Would reduction of cycle time deliver great benefits to the client or should we first work on reducing our training period?

While benchmarks can be used, like comparison against competitors on key parameters, or financial performance of the company over several years, it eventually boils down to the understanding of the business by the leadership team. They may need to take a call on the focus area so that real work can begin.

With a leadership that has 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, our senior management is well placed to identify areas that could do with some improvement.

Process optimization techniques – measuring benefits

The primary goal of a company being to make money for its owners is well known and understood. That it is sought to be achieved through a specific area of work is also well known and understood. It, therefore, follows that the primary benefit that is to be delivered through the application of process optimization techniques should be to improve the bottomline.

Different companies operate at different scales and levels of complexity. There could be an entrepreneur who provides fresh food to migrant workers who might be working alone. There could be a global financial institution operating in 50 countries with a workforce of over 100,000 employees. Process optimization holds value for both.

In the case of the entrepreneur, at this stage of her business, it is likely that complexity is limited and the impact of any single action is visible on the Income Statement. If she hires a person to deliver the food, she can immediately see the profit reducing. But, in a few days, if her orders have gone up as a result, she can also conclude that it was perhaps due to the additional service she is now offering. Hence, for a small business, it might be possible to quantify the benefit in terms of the impact on the bottomline.

In case of global behemoths like global financial institutions or technology companies or car makers, it becomes more difficult to trace each impact to the bottomline. How does a person who sells mutual funds to target customers in a branch in Accra in Ghana, see the impact of his actions on the Income Statement of the company? His contribution perhaps passes through so many levels of consolidation that it loses its color by the time it gets vomited on an Income Statement. Besides, even if visible, it will be lost on the rounding off that invariably must happen in consolidating numbers. Similarly, the process of Credit Card collections in Buenos Aires in Argentina cannot realistically see the impact of their actions on the Balance Sheet.

So, are these contributions not important? Should they be ignored?

Quite to the contrary, if the institution is big today it is only because of the combined result of thousands of such people and processes. They are the pillars on which its success stands.

This is where surrogate variables become useful; variables that can be used as interim measures as a representative of the real or final variable. Surrogate variables are what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of a vast number of people are based on and similar KPIs can be used as surrogate variables to measure the benefits of the impact of the application of process optimization techniques.

To ensure that we are always looking for opportunities to do things better, oWorkers works with clients in identifying a bunch of different such surrogate variables that add value to either the client or oWorker business, or both. Some of the improvement areas we have targeted are listed below:

  • Higher customer satisfaction score
  • Reduction in cycle time
  • Enhancement of output
  • Higher revenue realization per customer
  • Employing fewer resources
  • Shorter training duration
  • Faster turnaround time
  • Reduction of manpower attrition
  • Reduction in customer complaints
  • Lower number of cases opened for rework

‘Everything else remaining the same’ is the principle that should never be disregarded, whatever the area being targeted for optimization. A shorter training duration resulting in more errors is always possible, but cannot be called optimization or improvement. If we can reduce the training duration without increasing the number of errors, or without impacting adversely on customer satisfaction, is what can be called improvement.

Enhancement of output can be easily done by ‘throwing people at it’ if it is a manual process or buying more equipment. It does not require a genius to do it. However, it does require a genius to increase output without increasing headcount or without buying more equipment. That is optimization.

Hence, while embarking on an optimization exercise, it is equally important to understand the surrounding variables and parameters and ensure that they stay with acceptable ranges while you strive to optimize in a particular area.

Conclusion

Implementation of process optimization techniques is no longer a choice for organizations, it is a necessity, to keep themselves ahead of the curve.

With its focus on data based BPO work, and its selection as one of the top three providers of data services in the world, oWorkers remains a partner of choice for outsourcing your work to. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified and have an independent Quality team that can guide the improvement project regardless of the framework adopted.